Monday, March 28, 2011

Music Video Monday: Olivia Newton-John

On Friday morning, I learned that one of my co-workers was in a coma. He had a massive heart attack on Thursday evening, while waiting for the MAX train to go home. At work today, I learned that he died on Sunday afternoon, when the doctor saw no sign of progress and the co-worker's family decided to pull the plug. I'm so stunned by the suddenness of his death. When I last saw him on Thursday, he was sitting in our supervisors office. He looked okay, no sign of any health problems. He walked every day, the 30 minutes from the office to the MAX stop. He wasn't obese, he didn't smoke. He recently turned 50 years old. How could this happen?

The details are even more horrifying. He was sitting at a bench waiting for the MAX train when the heart attack happened. He slumped over. People thought he was sleeping so they didn't bother to wake him when the train came. Or the next train. Or the next train. He had laid there at the stop for two or three hours before someone got suspicious and called the medics. By then it was too late. What a horrible way to go: in a public place with people who are indifferent.

I believe that this is the first time I personally know a person to die from a heart attack. All the previoius deaths of people I know were the result of old age and health problems. As well as my cousin's suicide, which is a completely preventable death. That was shocking, but somehow, a sudden heart attack that strikes in someone who does not exhibit the high risk habits (he wasn't over exerting himself, either) is just disturbing. You see him one day at work, making his usual self-deprecating jokes and excited about March Madness, then the next day, he's gone. His cubicle is now a memorial (with a vase of flowers and a photo of him with Gene Simmons of KISS). He is the employee that I probably work the most with, even though our cubicles are in different rows and we each have our own jobs to do. He trained me in some of his job responsibilities to cover for him when he's gone.

My impression of him is that there was some kind of sadness attached to his life. His self-deprecating humour (which would likely get him fired at my last place of employment!) and his heavy drinking (over Christmas, New Year's and his Birthday) indicate to me that all is not well in his personal life. He might've been avoiding the pain and disappointment of life. My supervisor believes that he was a happy guy. At work, he was. He loved his job and he was hilarious in his comments. But all that could be a mask. I didn't know him well, though. People often use humour to keep people laughing as well as a boundary. He lived alone, had no pictures of family (his pictures in his cubicle were of famous musicians he has met), and never talked about anything beyond sports. It seems like a sad life to me. Which contributes to my feelings of discomfort in his death. Did he live the life he meant to? Or was he, like me, stuck in a low wage job, unable to live out his dreams and turning to drink and sports to escape from the disappointments of life? Like I said, I detected a melancholy to his life, even though I did not know him well. Others seem to be happy with surface appearances, but I think I have an intuitive sense about people.

I don't think he was a spiritual or religious person. Maybe he was private about it. With his sports obsession, though, I don't think he made time for it. At work, he listened to sportstalk on his portable radio. ALL DAY! Wouldn't that get boring after an hour or so?

Anyhow, in honour...or in memoriam to my co-worker, I have decided to dedicate this week's music video on his behalf. Of course, I had to go with Olivia Newton-John's "Heart Attack." I'm sure that he would be pleased by this dedication, because he made shocking self-deprecating humour all the time. I got his sense of humour, so I appreciate that fact about him. I remember what he told me when I first started working there in December: "I try to offend as many people as possible." I would have loved to see how he got along at my last place of employment! If they thought my humour was too much to take, they have seen nothing!

For his sake, I really do hope that it was "his time to go" (as our supervisor said), though I hate it when people say that. He seemed to have life ahead of him. What unfulfilled hopes and dreams did he harbour that won't come true? I truly hope his soul finds its way to the spiritual realm. And if its true that our souls in heaven are able to receive messages and well wishes, well, I hope he appreciates this blog post and music video dedication. I'm sure he'd have a good laugh over my selection. That's the way he was: a wicked sense of humour. God, we need more of that in our world!

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