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Tim’s Gift – Finding My Work Family

I’ll never forget the moment I found out Tim, a beloved co-worker, had passed away unexpectedly. I still can’t really talk about it other than to say I fell apart physically and emotionally. I had to call other staff to let them know what had happened and I could feel their hearts breaking with mine. I’ve been through a lot of loss in my life, but had never lost a co-worker before. That was one year ago today.

He was the funniest and sweetest of men and when I joined the office I felt a warmth from him that few people can exude. We had long conversations about so many things and he was super supportive about my volunteer work in the mental health area. There were times when I would hear him talking from his office in a very animated fashion and I would usually giggle. It was a Tim thing. He was so passionate about the stuff he believed in and couldn’t hide it in his voice! As a transplant from Southern Ontario, he was involving himself in so much in our community and building a life that others admired and respected. There were struggles he talked to me about and while I will never reveal what was said in those conversations, I can say that it was inspiring to see a man reveal his vulnerabilities. I hope I gave him a safe space to do that.

In the days following his untimely passing, our little office came together in a way that I had not thought possible. I already had my brother as a co-worker and grateful to have that close relationship close by, but in those dark moments we all became a family. No one understood what we were going through. No one could imagine that kind of pain. Our hearts broke not just for ourselves, but of course for the incredible loss his wife and “cubs” (what he called his four children) were experiencing. Not to mention the many colleagues and friends he had throughout Ontario.

Now I’m not gonna say I handled every moment well and I know for a fact that I drove my co-workers up the wall at times. I had a need to keep doing things; to have a task; to distract my mind; and I was hyper as hell! My PTSD and anxiety triggers were going off like nobody’s business. But no one got mad at me or told stop. We allowed each other to handle the grief in our own unique way. In those days before the service we shared laughter, stories, and tears. The day we said goodbye to Tim was a tough one, but we did it together. We mentally and emotionally held each other up and in doing so created a tighter and more intimate bond.

No, we have not gone back to “normal” and we have not put it aside and forgotten. Tim was our colleague, our friend, a great husband and father. His presence is still felt. I would give anything to have him back in our lives. His passing has left pain to be sure, however he also left me a gift. And that is a group of people who are more than just co-workers now…..they are family. I feel it to this day, and I know I can count on any one of them at any time. They are all my brothers now and we continue to hold a place for our lost brother. I spoke at Tim’s service and it ended with this; “Rest well Tim and we will take it from here”. I mean those words as much today as I did that day.

Thank you, Tim, for the gifts you gave me in life and in your passing. I miss you.


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