The “D” Word


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It’s something one is never fully prepared to deal with. When it strikes, your control issues are illuminated more than ever. Some may feel lonely, others helpless and others guilty. Regardless of the different feelings and emotions that come with it, the “D” word is real,very real. Rather we do it now or later, we must embrace all things that come with it.

My first encounter with the “D” word was something that still lingers in the back of my mind vividly. I was just a six year old who did not quite understand it all. I never knew my grandfather the way my friends knew theirs and thanks to the “D” word I will never know him.

At 30, the “D” word card has been dealt over and over for some folks very close to me; family members, dear friends and mentors. Each time the card was drawn the “D” word dealt a different hand of thoughts, feelings and reflections. By now I should be a “D” word pro. Yeah right.


The “D” word strikes everyday all day unfortunately. Monday it struck, close to home, work rather. We learned that the “D” word paid a visit to our co-worker Elaine. My initial reaction was one I never felt…utter shock. Usually tears would’ve fallen but this my jaw dropped to the floor. What do you mean? This doesn’t happen to the people that you see everyday for the past 6 years (almost). This happens to people who ate ill, who have terminal diseases, to those who are in car accidents. This happens to the people we are close to in out personal lives, not our work lives. Right? Wrong! The “D” word knows no color, no age, no difference between family memenr or co worker. The “D” word comes when it comes and that’s all there is to it.

While I sat in shock others in the room, wept. Some didn’t flinch. Others tried to hide the tears as they slowly fell from their rosy cheeks, rapidly dropping off their quivering chin. The “D” word pro herself was at a lost for words, searching for the appropriate emotion. I mean she was just a co worker right? It’s not like we were close or anything. So why was I so hurt and disappointed? It wasn’t until the “D” word it work, the place I’ve spend 40+ hours a week that I realized how intricately I am connected to most of the people I work with. You don’t think about it while you are discussing plans for the weekend or dishing out snippets of your roommate drama during a one hour counter shift. But in a weird, not that deep way we are connected to our co workers rather we like it or not. So once again, it’s time for me to deal with the “D” word.

It’s different each time it hits. Dealing with the “D” word is never the same as it was before. This time more than ever the “D” word has me thinking about the “L” word. No, not love. One thing Elaine pressed upon me was to enjoy my life. “Don’t wait til your retirement to enjoy your life”. She would always say, “eh you’re young you can do whatever you want”. She was exactly right. If there was one thing I learned from Elaine behind all here upfront obscurity , it was not allow life to stand in the way of living. Nope, all was not right in her life but she still took time to care for her mother. She visited her family up North often. She took off work early to go shopping for bras. She lived and perhaps that may be why she was so private. The things she kept private might not have been as important as enjoying life.

I’m thinking about living more. Not that I plan to work less but I am planning to defy the saying, life gets in the way of Iiving”. The time is now to focus the present and not what obstacles may be standing in our way of doing so.

Rather we deal with it right away or pretend it doesn’t exsist until the “D” word strikes again we must face it. And while it can leave us longing to be nurtured and consoled, we can also be forced to think about a word more important than death, the L word, life.

Rest well Elaine. Thank you for teaching me to focus on the right word.

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