Yesterday one of my co-workers committed suicide. I saw him the day before, he gave me a big smile and told me he was doing great. We always smiled when we saw each other. If we had time, we talked about how things were going in our lives. He always seemed happy and upbeat. In fact seeing him was one of the bright spots in my day. I, like everyone else was stunned by the news of his death by his own hand.
I was also angered at the news because I feel I failed him in some way. I failed to notice that under the veneer of his smile was so much pain. Pain I could have in some small way eased or lessen. Pain I was oblivious to. No one knows why he ended his most precious life, but we all reeled from the knowledge that he was gone.
I cannot turn back to Thursday and rewrite my last conversation with him, but can at least tell you what I wish I had said. I wish I had told him how much I appreciated that he always took the time to smile at me and acknowledge our connection as workplace allies. His warm hellos and inquiries as to my quality of my day were a tonic against the harsh realities of our jobs. I would say to him I would miss him if he went away and so would many others. I would tell him, as I am telling you, his life matters.