There is a rhythm to life if you stop and notice. The rituals and tasks you perform and people who you encounter on a daily basis become part of your world and you assume they will always exist. Then one day that rhythm is disrupted and a change occurs. It leaves a void in your life that you can’t describe, a feeling of loss because that person or event is no longer present. A sudden change occurred like that for me recently, when Judy, one of my favorite staff members retired after 18 years.
Judy was our receptionist and I met her for the first time when I was only 9 weeks old the day Doc took me to work to meet my co-workers. She welcomed me with open arms and I responded by giving her puppy kisses and curling up in her lap for a short nap.
Over the past four years our relationship developed into a warm friendship. Every morning, I would go to the front of the building where Judy worked and she would always have a treat for me (tasty gourmet treats, not the cheap kind Doc feeds me) and a warm pat on the head. I would sneak into her lunch bag and if I was fast enough, score an extra morsel. Even though Doc would be mortified and offer to buy her another lunch, Judy would only laugh and tell Doc not to worry about it.
As our receptionist, Judy was often the first person that people talked to when seeking addiction and mental health services. She greeted people on the phone and at the front door and I observed over the years that no matter who she talked to or encountered, she treated everyone with the same warmth and respect. I often saw her lend an empathetic ear to anyone that needed it and that included Doc sometimes.
When Judy decided to retire after many hard years of work we were surprised. But, her move to another state to be with her children and grandchildren is her reward for a job well done as she starts the next phase of her life.
It still feels sad in the early morning hours when the agency is quiet and I look down the hall for Judy’s smiling face. I hope she is having fun and relaxing in her retirement, but that doesn’t keep me from missing her.