A Beautiful Life
July 19, 2011 § 1 Comment
I think I am ready to write this entry. It’s been months since I’ve written- I keep making excuses- work is insane, I barely have time to exercise, cook, crochet, or pay my poor dog the attention he deserves- but this is important enough to make me take the time.
Friday, the unthinkable happened. A life that had really just begun was lost in the most senseless, traumatic, horrifying manner. By now, everyone reading this doubtless knows the details, so I will only sum up- a security guard in the office building where I work ambushed, shot, and killed my coworker and friend Brittney Watts in the parking deck connected to our office. It was the middle of the day, lunchtime. We knew a shooting had taken place and watched the scene directly under our window for hours with growing dread and anxiety unable to reach Brittney before we learned it was the beautiful, wonderful girl who sat directly beside me who had been killed. I have never been in a room full of as much anguish as was felt by our collective work family when they broke the news to all of us- including our colleagues in Tampa.
The crime was horrific. But the loss is even worse. Brittney and I had worked for the same company for almost exactly a year (she had accompanied me on my one-year-anniversary lunch only three days before)- but we had only worked directly together on the same account for about 4 months- and only a little over ONE month in the same city. But she immediately fit right into our little team-let. She offered advice and direction to my assistant planner who sat right behind her, every Monday she shared all the details of everything she had done in Atlanta that weekend that she was so excited about- since she had just moved back and bought a house, this included trying new restaurants that had opened since she left, visiting the Scott’s Antique Market, installing new ceiling fans in her porch (which apparently terrified Willow, her dog)- she was just at the peak of her life, and it is so incredibly unfair that she has been taken.
She was so excited to be back here, in her hometown, and we were all so excited to have her. I still remember cleaning her desk the Friday before she arrived so that she would have a nice clean slate to get started- I was so excited to be able to work with her in PERSON instead of over phone and chat as we had done for so long- the thought of her desk being cleared now seems heart-breaking. For now, it is untouched, save the bouquets of flowers that grace it in her memory. My heart dreads the day it is emptied of her belongings.
I’m so thankful I got the chance to meet her husband Brian only two weeks earlier at a Braves game, and to see how happy they made each other. My heart aches to think of the pain he and the rest of her family have gone through and still have yet to face.
If there is one good thing that has come from this situation, it has been the realization of how amazing the company that I work for really is. I referred to my work family earlier, and I mean this in every sense. All weekend, I was either physically with or on the phone/text with many people on my team, and received texts and emails and prayers from people outside of my team at 22 that I normally don’t even work with. I thought Monday would be just as hard as Friday, returning to the place it happened- but the overwhelming sense of support and community that we all felt all day long really made it easier. I am so lucky to work where I do.
Last night was the memorial, today the funeral- the rituals have helped make this situation seem more real, which is good and bad. I’m starting to recognize that I will never see her face again- never look over to my right and see her sitting cross-legged in her chair with her big blue blanket wrapped around her, never have the opportunity to simultaneously read some ridiculous email from a rep or a client and immediately look over at her reading the same email and share a look of disbelief. Stupid small things like that are what you miss the most I think. Just Friday morning, I was getting frustrated about something on our account, and we shared the moment, and I just said to her, “I am so glad that you are here and are working on this with me.” Then, in my normal fashion, I felt silly for being sentimental and made some kind of joke about how, because with her working on it with me, if it completely fails, it won’t be all my fault, but the truth is, I WAS glad she was there, and will miss her presence immensely.