Someone I know, passed away last week. Even my grammar hasn’t gotten used to it.

When I first heard he was ailing, my reaction was one of disbelief. A 40-something, MD of his own compact and rapidly growing organisation is supposed to be inside a boardroom or on the list of successful entreprenurs. He’s not supposed to be inside the ICU fighting…cancer?

On Thursday it was over. One phone call and a shake of the head conveyed the message. At the hospital, I was waiting to see him but what they wheeled out was swathed in white cloth. We followed the van to his house and then the ‘body’ was carried off to be cremated.

There was an obituary in the Times. The company website has a photograph and an obituary on the first page. His email address still shows on the ‘Who’s who’ section.

Half a century to build a life, one short evening to end it, endless years for the rest of us to pick up the pieces.

I stood outside for a long time alone. I never got to see the ‘body’. I’m glad. In my mind he’ll always be the quiet force behind the scenes,
the gentle but keen eyes watching every person in the room..
the top boss who gave me my first job…and good advice for my future when I left…

How hollow that sounds. I can’t even explain why it matters so much to me. Maybe it is because the crowd that showed up to pay their last respects had so very many people I knew…employees, current and old, common friends. You can see who matters to a person by who grieves his passing away. He was my first big boss and hence, someone important in my world. It never occurred to me that I was a tangible part of his world too.

Maybe it is because I have known a wonderful human being too and I just don’t know how to phrase that in the past tense.

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