It’s rare to open the garage first thing in the morning and walk right into a sign that says, “It’s okay to leave the house today.” And yet there I was, face to face with this surprise rainbow. Perfect timing. I needed a rainbow this week.
As if I hadn’t already been drained from post-vacation catch-up duties at work, Tuesday morning I learned a longtime coworker passed away unexpectedly on Monday. He was 44 like me, a handful of months older, and dozens of pounds lighter. I’m told he didn’t look well on Friday but dismissed the notion of getting it checked out. He leaves behind one son, age 12, who’s now staying with grandparents (Mom is not in the picture) and I can’t begin to fathom what he’s going through at the moment.
Jon was soft-spoken, slow to anger, organized, particular, accommodating, and bend-over-backwards helpful whenever he saw a need. He bought me lunch on my first day at my current job fifteen years ago, and would be one of my trainers and peers throughout my Year One. Promotions and transfers moved us into separate but adjacent circles as time and careers went by, but his most recent position required him to pick my brain occasionally for bits of my accumulated workplace trivia, some of which he probably taught me in the first place.
After I got the news, I still had another 7½ hours left on my shift. Concentration and composure didn’t come easily. Denial helped. 44 is older than a lot of famous musicians managed, but barely half the age of, say, Garry Marshall. Some of us feel like he’s just on an unexpected vacation and we’ll see him next week. Services were announced today, but why make plans for it if he’s actually alive, right?
Between his passing, the internet’s increasingly frustrating junior-high atmosphere, and America’s slow-burn transformation into the largest barroom brawl of all time, I’ve spent the past two days in one of those hermitic mood swings that has me wanting to curl up inside a pillow-lined Lego bunker, turn off all my input streams, crawl into a rabbit hole inside my head, and hope at least one friend will someday tell me when it’s okay for me to come back out and play again. I can’t and won’t skip work for that, but in the present scene a lot of my reasons for writing feel like they’re boxed away and tossed in a mental closet for safekeeping.
But the rainbow went a long way this morning toward dispelling the darkness, if only for a moment. Rainbows are just happy and weird like that for me. I’ll go for years without seeing one, and then presto — I’m a smiling, eager kid all over again. This one shined a little light into the keyhole, trying to lure me outside. So maybe let’s try the closet door again tomorrow and see where the steps lead me next.