Friday, July 21, 2006

When the Curtain Calls for You


I can't stop thinking about Bob. It's driving me a little nuts, and the thing is, I wasn't that close to him. We;d worked together maybe 8 months, been friends pretty much the whole time, but he'd helped shape some of my peers' whole careers. He'd left work a few months back with a quiet, surreptitious farewell, and in all likelihood, I was never going to see him again. He was 44, married with kids in the Maryland 'burbs. It's not like we were going to run into each other at the Black Cat.

But man, he really touched me. He helped mentor me at work when I really, really needed it, and was a friendly face in what can be a very socially complicated environment. When I needed Bob, really needed him, he was there, every time. It's a rare person that's there for you every time you need them, and rarer still that they'd be so pleasant about it.

As I mentioned before, here and elsewhere, Bob was taken by a car while skateboarding with his son. The Head Butler has a far better tribute to Bob up than I could ever hope to write. Here's the quote that brought it home for me:

"He looks into the hearts of damaged people and sees how to make them whole, and then he says the words that help them heal. And he never asks for credit, and he never gets it."

This one also hits me:

"This is the first death of a close friend for a lot of people, and feelings are raw.

This is the first, closest death I have ever experienced. My grandparents are all alive, at least the ones that were alive when I was born. My parents, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends all answer at roll call. So this has me pretty shaken, and what really has be scared is that it can only get worse from here. And it's going to go one of two ways, neither of which are exactly comforting.

If this is being read by a member of the Wooldridge family, you may want to stop now. It's morbid, and you really have had enough. But I've got to get this out.

The reaper is either going to circle me, and all of us, slowly, first nipping away colleagues and coworkers, then moving in to college friends, neighbors, culling family members and finally us -- and we're going to have to watch in horror and live through each death until we are, finally, all alone.

Or: it's going to happen suddenly, arrhythmically, and totally at random. It could be us on that skateboard, our parents in a car accident, or god knows what else. It may only strike when we think everything is all right for once, finally. Being on guard is no good, and neither is being nervous.

According to Alan Moore's Rorschach in the Watchmen, "This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces." It's not how good you are or what you avoid that shapes the way you pass. But being a good person, a great guy like Bob was -- you leave a hell of a legacy behind for the rest of us when your number comes up. That's all I got this far. Hopefully none of us reading these words will learn anything else this heavy anytime soon, either.


At 2:38 AM, Anonymous Jens Mikkelsen, Denmark said...

Too bad, when such a good person dies a really good post you have made.


At 8:59 AM, Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

It's a beautiful tribute to your friend. Hope you're taking good care of yourself, cutting yourself some slack if you get into strange moods for awhile.

We're all going to go sometime, some way, no one can say how. I like the old movie Groundhog Day which is such a great story about how living life well isn't about money or accomplishment, but about doing good deeds and being a good person. Your words about your friend made me think about Groundhog Day. Thank you.

At 7:46 PM, Anonymous tallglassofvino said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

a friend of mine witnessed a fatal H&R just a few weeks back, and in helping him cope with it, the emotions took me down, too. It seems we can better accept fate when it comes in the form of an illness or natural disaster - when it results from one person's careless/senseless act - one split second - it's harder to accept.

At 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My name is Bob Wooldridge and my wife and I live in Cape Cod, MA. More importantly, Bob, Jr. is our son. We have been heartened by the outpouring of wonderful sentiments and memories from Bob's many friends and collegues. He was a wonderful young man and we were so very proud of his accomplishments. Unfortunately, until his death we were never aware of just how many people he touched.

He loved the work he was doing and those he was doing it with even as he struggled with challenges and obstacles presnted by revolving managers.

Bev and I are trying to compile a collection of the thoughts and tributes you all have contributed which we hope to give to Stix and Linley (his children) sometime in the future when the mark their father made on this earth will be more meaningful to them.

One of the blogs that has been most helpful is, "The Bob Wooldridge Memorial Collection." However, when I tried to access this site tonight I found I could no longer gain access because it is restricted by the owner. Could someone out there please help us out and give us some advice and assistance in accessing the collection and gathering as many of these wonderful thoughts as possible.

Once again, his mother and I thank you all so very much for taking the time to say a few words about what Bob meant to you. These notes have been a source of great strength and comfort to us as we struggle to comprehend this tragedy.


Bob Wooldridge, Sr.
81 Meadowbrook Road
Mashpee, MA 02649


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