I don't want to turn this into a 100% depressing post -- I'm aiming for 77% or less -- so allow me to say just a few words about Burt. They're actually a bright spot. And perhaps they'll explain to my new coworkers (only one of whom knows this blog even exists) why I was such an emotional wreck when I found out he had died. The thing is, Burt was one of those individuals whom you can tell after meeting for the first time is going to end up on your FPL - "Favorite People List." My FPL is pretty select and does not necessarily correlate to those I consider my best friends or those I spend the most time with. FP's, due to their inherent goodness, do not always make the best drinking buddies. Maybe "favorite" is the wrong word. Perhaps "best" is more accurate. You know who I'm talking about - those individuals who stand apart from the rest with their goodness, decency, moral fiber, and kindess.
I had two months with Burt in which to confirm my gut feeling. I found him to possess all the qualities needed to make my FPL, as well as other super-traits including thoughtfulness, supportiveness, intelligence, and humor. When I first started at Villanova I repeatedly heard from others that I was very lucky to be working with Burt. Everyone who knew him liked him, including the staff at Antonella's, the little Italian place he preferred for lunch. My husband Rob met Burt just once, for less than 15 minutes, and agreed with me that he was "a good guy." And despite battling leukemia and dealing with nearly annual bouts of pneumonia, word is that he never ever complained or sought sympathy. Me? I whine if I have a paper cut or don't get my 8 hours of sleep at night.
I'm going to miss many things about Burt, including:
- Seeing him in his jaunty cap and trench coat (he always looked as though he should be strolling the moors in Ireland)
- Irritating him by calling him "Sir," or "Boss"
- Him insulating me from "outside forces" that sought to complicate my position
- His quick sense of humor and the quips we tossed back and forth over our cubicle divider
- His daily soup check in the Holy Grounds cafe. Since I started working here, they never did offer Italian Wedding Soup, his favorite.
- Our proposed parallel parking challenge
- Comparing kid stories
- Working with him every day
I guess it's understandable that I'm sad about losing Burt, but I am blessed to have known him for as long as I did. And when I think about it, I've been blessed many times over by those special, unforgettable individuals who have come and gone from my life. I just wish they didn't have to serve as regular reminders to cherish the moments we have with those we love.