When you have someone you see everyday, you can't imagine the thought of ever NOT seeing them almost every day. But if you go from lunch 4.5 days a week, to missing a day or two every week, to gradually not having time to do it once a week sometimes, you find it IS bearable, though you still love them as much as ever. Life changes.
And when someone passes away suddenly, it hits hard and sudden and you miss them dearly. But if they'd been sick... out three days here, a week there... finally retired but still holding on, it hits differently when you hear they've finally let go. That's not to say, however, it doesn't hit you - death changes too.
Joey, a former co-worker of mine, was diagnosed with cancer that was supposed to kill him in six months. That was something like seven years ago. He was an inspiration to a lot of people to the validity of worldview and positive thinking and not losing the will to live. He did finally let go last night and it's still strange to think that, though he officially retired months ago, he'll never come waltzing in the door for a visit. And I'm really glad that the last time he did stop by, he had lots of energy and was in good spirits.
My prayers go out to his wife and extended family, which includes my co-workers, some of whom have known him since the beginning of his career here over twenty years ago.