When I got to work this morning, a coworker pointed out a local story about a couple who died over the weekend due to an apartment fire. In reading the story in the paper, it was someone who was a library regular that I had helped on a number of occasions.
I had known Joe for a couple of years. He was a student in my computer class as well as some one-on-one help sessions. Together we had created a resume, got it up on one of the New Jersey employment sites, and done some job searching. Over the summer he had come by to tell me that he had found a job; a few weeks ago, he came by to tell me how he was unjustly let go from that job. We had talked about finding another job; he mentioned that he was taking care of his wife afflicted with a short life expectancy prognosis from cancer. Joe was a handyman but without a Facebook account, so I posted it his details on one of the local business groups. He always asked if I was in when he came to check out his movies and I’d nearly always pop out of the back to say hi and see what was going on.
This is my first experience with a library regular passing away. I’ve had a coworker pass away from cancer and encountered death through relatives coming to the library to settle affairs and return items. But, as you can surmise from the previous paragraph, this was someone I got to know on a personal level. It just really hit me.
Rita Meade posted something today that really captures some of what I’m feeling at the moment. The public librarian life is not always glamorous, but I made a difference in Joe’s life. It counts. It matters. And in making a difference in Joe’s life, I made one in my own by remembering that what I do is important. Even if it has some wonky, weird, boring, and/or awful moments between the important times.
If I might ask a favor from my readers, I’d appreciate it if you would so kind as to share your own stories about library regulars passing away.