“Can you moratorium a cubicle? You know, put it in a state where no one could occupy it?”
It was a stupid thought, and I was grateful that I didn’t say it out loud. A moratorium on Doug’s cubicle wouldn’t bring him back. Doug would still be dead, no matter what. The cubicle was just the place he worked. It was not him, nor was he the sort of person that he let his work define him. Sure, personal items decorated the space, but it was still, just a cubicle.
As the admin dutifully boxed up Doug’s possessions to clear out the cube, sadness took me, and tears tried to rise. I fought them down – not the time or the place or the situation. These moments have been sneaking up on me ever since the funeral. In these moments, I realize, really realize Doug is gone, and I will not see him again. And that sucks.
Doug was the sort that would do almost anything for anyone.
Doug, I need a ride to the other side of town at midnight.
Doug, I need $300, and I don’t know when I can pay you back.
Doug, I was stung by jellyfish, and I need you to piss on the wound to neutralize the poison.
I never asked him any of those things, but I know if I had, he would have complied. He also would have thought the pissing on me thing was hysterical, too.
Doug was a guy I worked with, but he was a guy I worked with that really, truly touched my heart. He wasn’t average, and that always seems to be the way these things go. The jackass you work with that you sometimes wished would die, he doesn’t. The good-natured, funny guy that everyone likes, he dies needlessly. I look for balance in the universe, and I swear I cannot find it in this situation. It isn’t fair.
“Good Morning, JOHN.” He would call me John because I let it slip once that I don’t like going by my first name, John. This, of course, ensured that Doug would call me John at every possible opportunity. It was always with a smirk and in fun, but only because he knew it got to me. Though it was annoying, it was also funny. An inside joke that everyone was in on.
More than once, Doug invited me to go with him to Mexia and shoot guns or just get smashed on the weekend. I always declined. Need to get home… things to do… going to wash my hair, etc. And I did have other things to do, but I also thought there would be another time. I ran the clock out, and the opportunity is no more. Hindsight is 20/20, so they say. Hindsight sucks.
And that is what I remember about Doug. Most of it is what I know he would be like, not really what I know he was like. And I think that is what I mourn most and why I suddenly am given over to tears at the oddest times – I had the opportunity to spend time with a very cool person, and I didn’t, and now that opportunity is gone.
Cool people are rare. No, really, they are rare. Honestly, think about how many truly cool people you know. I bet it is just a few. Don’t miss the opportunities to be around them while you can.
In memory of John Douglas Martin, August 22, 1971 – February 24, 2012
© 2012, 2020, Mitch Lavender