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88/365 Godspeed, Christi

88/365 Godspeed, Christi
The woman who has been my trainer for the past 6 months at the Water Authority was found dead in her home this morning. She was 53 and leaves behind a daughter who is 10 (I think). I have no details on the cause, but I suspect it was a heart attack.

Christi had worked at the Water Authority since the 1980s and had forgotten more about water treatment than I will ever know.

While she had a lively past, Christi was a devoted mother and worker who cared little for anything besides her daughter, Abagail, or the water plant where she had worked since graduating college.

I only knew her a short time, but we worked closely as she mentored me from area to area, teaching me the basics of waste water treatment, plant mechanics and personnel politics. She and I became friends and she was from the very start my biggest advocate, nearly harassing our superiors to hire me full time.

Among her passions were her standard poodles and feeding the half dozen or so cats who roam our plant's grounds.

Not one for socializing, I was pleasantly surprised when Christi called me on the night of my first public display of photography back in October and asked for directions to the event. Grace, a friend and I got to meet her daughter, Abagail, at the event and we all spent a wonderful evening talking and looking at art.

Christi even bought one of my photos, which made me very happy. She really didn't have to, but she seemed to truly like it. I was -- and am -- honored.

We learned of her passing about mid-morning. She had uncharacteristically not checked in after calling in ill on Tuesday. Thankfully her daughter was with her father this week, although who knows what might have been had she been home with her.

I cried most of the day at work and am glad I worked alone today. It will be very hard for me as I go on shift work next week: I will move from area to area in two-week cycles and have to recall what she taught me in each place.

I will smile and probably shed some tears each time I move to a new section. But I won't be the only one, I'm sure: there will be plenty of crusty old workers with wet cheeks I bet.

I am going to try not to grieve so much -- I am notorious about taking these things hard -- and instead focus on the practical: things I can do for her daughter and family, and doing well at my job.

But it won't be easy and that place will never ever be quite the same.

I will miss you, Christi. May you be at peace.

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