Back when I was a new first bride, after I moved to Pennsylvania but before I had any children, I got this amazing sales support job as a nurse. I was hired to partner with a salesman, I will call him Mark.
Mark and I were instantly a great team. He was a decade older than I, so had more life experience. He had been a flight nurse, and was currently in the Air Force reserves. He was smart and a bit of a light hearted comedian; I was more serious but hey, I can be fun. We traveled locally from hospital to hospital. We worked really well together. He was single and had a happy personality, and he would play off that all the time. To give you a silly example, we walked up to a nurses station, the nurses were bustling around it. We were not catching anyone’s eye, so Mark picked up a flashlight from the desk and, turning it on, started flashing it in the nurses faces. This would be annoying, but somehow it was not, when Mark did it. As soon as he got some attention he would just be so engaging, so charming.
Mark loved 50’s music and whenever we had a sales meeting he would bring his boom box and play his favorite hits afterwards. He was fun about it though, a work party was always better with Mark. He started dating this adorable woman and my husband and I would meet them often for drinks or dinner. We played rounds of Chip and Putt together, the four of us.
After three years as partners with me, the company pulled him to a territory out west that was a new target area; he was on an advance team helping to establish business. He became the top sales rep on this travel team. I took over our old territory myself.
He eventually officially transitioned out west to live and work. I became pregnant, and delivered, my first child. Mark sent the sweetest baby gift, these adorable, tiny, sneakers.
Have you ever gotten a phone call where you literally, have to sit down? Crumple down to the floor actually, with a moan of disbelief, or other sounds you have never made. There are times in life that sounds come because words can’t. I got a sudden call about Mark, while the tiny sneakers were still fresh in the box. He had broken up with a western girlfriend. She began to date someone else. He climbed up onto the second floor balcony of the girlfriends apartment while the someone else was there. He shot and killed him. He jumped down, drove off in his car and killed himself in the garage of the company, using company materials.
It was a total shock. I would have chosen not to believe, if that was a choice I had available. I would have signed a list, been one of 65 women to say how sweet he was, how easy to work with. I would have written a letter, been a character witness for him. I had no warning, no inkling, ever. I had no reason to doubt him, and might have doubted any one who told me something I did not want to hear. Mark had a side he never showed me. Who knew.
People do not have to be all or one thing. Sometimes we cannot imagine what we humans are capable of. We can have a successful life and rewarding career... and then. We can be capable of great, surprising love... or not.
I still wonder if the thank you note for the tiny sneakers, with the baby pictures I had tucked so happily inside, was ever opened by the Mark I knew.
Sent from my iPhone