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Opinion and Insight
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2016: The Power of Colleagues in Strength and Happiness, 9 months ago

Jim Huie, Director of Production/Executive Producer, Alkemy X, reflects on a particularly challenging 2015 for three co-workers

2016: The Power of Colleagues in Strength and Happiness

This year, three of my closest colleagues each lost their fathers over the span of just five weeks. I helplessly watched each of these three professional women break down to the darkest levels of vulnerability and pain that humanity allows. I also saw each of them demonstrate tremendous strength - greater strength than I realised any of them had. Strength that I’ve never shown and that I don’t believe I possess. Through tragic and completely unfair irony, each of these three women also endured other unique negative circumstances in 2015 in addition to the loss of their fathers. 

In March, one of these women got divorced just five days before her father’s sudden heart attack. For that ever so brief five-day period, she found herself in a better place than she’d been in many years while in an unhappy marriage. She felt such independence and also support from her father and her two sisters [her mother passed away about ten years ago]. Her life became shattered with one phone call alerting her of her father’s heart attack. When asked how she endured this tragic time of her life, she’ll tell you that she wouldn’t have, had it not been for the support of her colleagues. When she arrived back to work after traveling to her home state for about a week of funeral leave, she says that she felt like she landed on a cloud of support that her colleagues created for her. She’s now as independent as a person can be and is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met.

In April, another of my co-workers lost her father to ureter cancer. About a month later, she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is one of the most positive as well as tenacious people I’ve ever met and she confronted breast cancer with those same strengths. I should mention that I’m a lot like this woman. And I know that although she truly believed that she’d beat breast cancer - and although she certainly fought it with all of her might - all the while she had feelings and thoughts that she didn’t expose to others. I know that she was afraid. I’m sure that at times she felt weak. At times she was worried. And she felt all of these things in the face of death. But one thing she never felt was alone. Today, she is cancer free. She’s being reconstructed into the bombshell she always was and continues to be, both inside and out… and she’s growing stronger every day.

Also in April, another co-worker lost her father to a tragically short bout with Adenocarcinoma - a form of lung cancer that quickly metastasised into a dozen brain tumours. He passed away surrounded by his family less than two months after his diagnosis. This colleague is a single mother of three wonderful children and a full time professional. She’s been down before, but she always gets up. She’s been divorced for a few years and on a daily basis manages the upbringing of two wonderful boys while navigating the complexities of co-parenting with an ex. She also had the courage and wherewithal to remove herself and her children from a relationship with her daughter’s father. She now stands independently strong and provides a positive home life for her children with nothing by joy in her heart.

Since the loss of their loved ones, each of these women has moved forward in her life the way in which her father would have wanted. They do so alongside their remaining family members but also with the love and support of the personal relationships that they’ve forged at work. Some of the people who know us best in this world are our colleagues. Although our relationships are professional by design, we’re often closer to our colleagues personally than we are with some of our oldest friends and family. It makes sense logically. In our professional aged lives, we spend far more time with colleagues than we do with our childhood friends and family. As co-workers, we help one another. When the going gets tough, we’re there for one another both professionally and personally.

Each of the women above is happy to put 2015 behind them. They’re all stronger today than they were at this time last year. But it goes without saying that they would do anything for these tragedies to have not occurred and for their fathers to be here with them today. The holiday and New Year celebrations will be hard for them and for their families. There will always be a void. Regardless though, they’ll each be allowing themselves the right to experience both happiness and sadness in the coming weeks. There will be soberingly sad moments of years gone by. But there will also be precious smiles of babies, increased appreciation for time spent together with family and countless other happy moments. They’ll drift, as they’re entitled, between moments of sadness and moments of happiness. And their colleagues will be thinking of them and will be there for them on Monday, January 4th, 2016. 


Jim Huie

Director of Production/Executive Producer

Alkemy X