Greetings, blog friends. It's been awhile.
I know I sound like a broken record, saying that wow it's been awhile, and I promise, I'll be posting again soon on a regular basis to keep you updated, but believe me this time I had my reasons.
I have struggled to sum up the past months since I last posted in May. How do I begin to put into words what happened? I've been able to talk to friends and family members that are here with me, but I just left this big empty hole in my online life, and refrained from telling "everyone" (faraway friends and the whole of the internet) just because I wasn't ready to close the chapter yet.
So, let me fill you in.
Things were going well in May and the first part of June but they were really busy. I had returned to the salon for work, and as I had feared, I was losing the struggle of work/life balance. I'm a very dedicated loyal person when it comes to work, and I have a very hard time putting up boundaries of leaving things at the office, and bringing emotions and problems home with me. My life is like a wet watercolor page-- all of the paint blurs together, touches and overlaps. When you're painting, you can't go back and make two paints not touch. It is nearly impossible. It did not help that my boss was falling into old habits as well, calling me after hours, and putting immense pressure on me to nitpick at office politics, that to be frank, were not critical to the business. I was getting resentful of going into the office, but I still was enjoying working with my coworkers and my boss, and even though I was struggling with work/life balance, I was still having a lot of fun at the salon. A salon is a wonderfully creative, fun atmosphere with the right mix of people. So, things were getting harder, but in many ways, they were the same as they had always been.
Until I got a call early one morning on my way to the office in mid-june. My boss had not shown up for his first client. More oddly, his first client of the day was one that started a full hour than when he normally began. Chad never, ever missed his first client of the day, at the beginning of the week. Not without calling the night before and making arrangements to change the appointment himself. And when one of his clients was on the books earlier than normal, he was always very aware and prompt about showing up on time. Even stranger, calls to his cell phone from the salon went straight to voicemail. When I tried calling, I got the same result. As I turned into the parking lot, I got a very bad, very weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. By the time I arrived at work, his first client of the day had left because she had waited 30 minutes. I instructed the front desk to call his next two clients and apologize and reschedule. I waited another 15 minutes and then called his family members that I knew and expressed my concern that he wasn't there. I even called a staff member who lived nearby and asked him to go beat on Chad's door. No response.
I locked the office door and called my dad, "Dad, I think something is very wrong," I said and explained the circumstances. He sighed and told me that more than likely, Chad was hungover or passed out, but that I needed to be responsible and cover all my bases. "Call the police. They'll go over." I coordinated with a family member and they agreed to meet the police at Chad's house. I was to wait for instruction.
The next two hours were some of the weirdest of my life. The staff was acutely aware that Chad had not shown up for his day-- his absence in the salon was always conspicuous - and worse they could read that I was very worried about it. I lied and said all was fine, that I was sure everything was fine. I tried getting on with my day, completing tasks that I knew had to be done, while keeping my phone glued to my hand and muttering a variety of prayers under my breath--pleading with God that he was passed out, that perhaps he was only slightly injured and that I could visit him at a hospital that afternoon. I was a ball of nerves waiting for news. Someone pointed out that our color delivery had not arrived yet, and that we were in desperate need of some essential colors and that we were running low on foils as well. I jumped at the chance to get out of the salon-- I've always found that a task and a good drive calms my nerves.
I was on a very busy highway that was congested with lunch hour traffic when I got the call. "He's gone, Jessica, He's gone." I don't remember what I said, or how I got off the phone. The scenario that I had kept on the very edge of my mind all morning, praying that I wouldn't have to touch it, was in fact the reality. I could hardly breath, my mind was racing through cascades of sounds and images, but seemingly empty at the same time.
I immediately called my mother, and I sobbed into the phone-- my gut felt like I had been punched repeatedly for hours at a time, my chest aching with the cold I already had was screaming with pain with these endless racking sobs-- only a mother could understand what I was even saying.
I then called Arthur-- it was his birthday, bless his heart-- and he immediately dropped what he was doing, packed up his work items and agreed to meet me at the salon.
I pulled into the supply store parking lot, (which was a miracle that I arrived without crashing, hitting someone or something, given my state) wiped my tears and got out of the car. It was so strange-- moments ago, I was filled with raw emotion, and yet, as soon as I left my car I nosedived into this numb, dazed-like trance. I had maxed out for the day-- or possibly forever it felt like. I had no more emotion left in me.
What happened next was one of the most tender moments I have ever experienced as a human being. I was checking out, and the girl behind the counter simply asked me how my day was going and hesitatingly I acknowledged out loud that I had just found out that a good friend of mine had passed away. She stopped, asked if she could hug me, and without waiting for my reply, came out from around the counter and gave me the most life affirming hug. It was like tenderness and pure love were being pushed back into my soul, filling in part, these cavities that hung in the center of me. It was so essential, and I have thought many times over the past few months about that moment when a stranger was willing to share empathy and love with me. I was so grateful that God had made this person who felt comfortable enough to do that, and that He inspired her in that split second to do that-- because it so very needed. I needed to get through the end of the day, which was a pretty miserable one.
I don't know how to describe telling your staff, who are really just work friends, that their leader and friend and confidante has passed on. It's awful. You can't explain why, or how, or give them any of the details. Somehow in your head, you think that maybe there was a way to explain it better, or if you knew more, that you could soften the blow. You can't. It's miserable all around-- and I pray that I never have to experience something like that ever again.
The end of the day was filled with more love-- I left late that afternoon and went home and zoned out. Crawled in bed and tried to sleep-- snuggled with Arthur and watched hours of mindless tv. About 8 pm, there was a knock on my door, and to their everlasting credit, my dear sweet friends were there, dinner and birthday cake for Arthur in hand. They came in, sang, made our home feel light and airy again, and were even sweet enough to bring bubble bath and goodies for me too. (Somewhat hilariously, after singing happy birthday to me, they sang in monotone notes, a line of "really sad day for you" which sounds exactly how you imagine it to sound.)
The rest of the week slowed down to an incredible slurried pace. The funeral was on a Saturday. Life moved on, but with this big, giant hole that I was constantly negotiating the edge of.
I have thought so much about Chad since that day. About our conversations, about the way he smells and what his hugs feel like, and his brilliant way of swearing. How he greeted me with a cheery good morning every day, and planted kisses on my cheek all the time. How he would like an outfit someone was wearing, and the way he would complement them or tell me about the latest and greatest in his life. How he was constantly dancing, and how much he loved Rihanna. I even missed his voice so much, that I found old deleted voicemails and listened to all of them-- but they don't have the same zest his regular voice did-- he was very to the point and weirdly aware of what he sounded like when he was leaving a message-- so he never really sounded like him. I desperately miss all of the laughing with him-- no matter what we were working on, or talking about or even just in the process of doing-- there was constant laughter. Loads of jokes and looks and little remarks that he and I shared. I miss him so much. People know that I lost Chad, but a lot of them didn't quite get our relationship. Outside of my husband, father, and brothers, Chad was the closest male friendship I've ever had. Yes, he was my boss, and yes we had a lot of work in our relationship-- but we were very good friends.The future always had Chad in it, which I think in part, made it very hard to go on.
I left the salon towards the beginning of August. It was too hard to be alone in that office without him, surrounded by all of the little things that were him, and what was worse was I didn't have him to turn to. More than once, I locked the door, lowered the blinds and cried my eyes out. We were a team in how we accomplished things together, and there were a lot of questions and situations that I just couldn't handle alone. I don't think I could have pushed the business forward the way it needed to because I was constantly negotiating "What would Chad want? Or what would he have done?" And the truth of it is-- it's not his business anymore. He left it here. I had the sense that something was amiss, and I sat down and talked to a therapist-- who wisely pointed out that I was depressed. When I realized that I had been fantasizing about Arthur getting a job change that would, oh darn, make us move to another country, I realized that I felt trapped. That's not a way to live, ever. I knew it, and I realized that if Chad was here, he would insist that I do the right thing for me.
Mostly good things pop up about Chad now. Every once and awhile I have a blue day, where I get upset and angry about what happened. But that's rare. When I do think of Chad, he pops in my head as he does in my dreams-- we're sitting on a pristine white beach, and there is gorgeous blue water in front of us. No one else is there-- we're just having a conversation, one that's silly and rambling, and Chad is laughing, rollicking back and forth with laughter. I feel lifted whenever I see him like that, and I look forward to sitting on the beach with him someday in the after life, and finally figuring out what we're laughing about.