You always turned slightly to your right and smiled as you walked quickly, assuredly, down the hallway. You were sure to shout out a greeting to me as you headed up to the second floor of our building to your job. I never knew you in that capacity--the capacity of work; I didn't really know you at all in fact, but I could count on glancing up to say hello to you the beginning of the day (or goodbye at the close of the day)--pretty much like clockwork. There's a beautiful rhythm and symmetry to the day when you encounter the same people over and over again, and this is even when you don't know them that well.
No one told us you had been ill. No one told us you weren't getting better. No one told us that you lived alone and probably needed someone to help care for you. I heard that insurance pushed the hospital to release you far too early to the care of yourself and no one else. And no one knew that. You told no one.
I, who said goodbye to you over a month ago, did not realize that it would be our last exchange.
You were in your forties. You were young. You were supposed to get better. This? This was supposed to be curable. (I only heard this in retrospect. After we got the news.)
I thought that you had finally gotten a well deserved vacation.
You had one of those jobs, one not unlike mine, one that people don't think about when you say, "I work at a university." You did not have a glamorous job, but you still looked glamorous doing it. Stylish hats, coats and shoes. Smart glasses. But you were much more than that. I might not have known you well, but of this I am sure.
You share a name with a place that I hope you were able to visit before you left this earth, or that you were able to see something peaceful and spectacular.
You. For the symmetry that you brought to my day, for the effortless grace you demonstrated by simply walking down the hall. You will be missed.