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It is never easy to say goodbye, no matter how long ago the last hello was.

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April 12, 2013 by vlittle528

A reason, a Season and A Lifetime. A good adage to keep in your mind when you are trying to figure out what a relationship means to you, why you may be losing it, or even how special it may be. If you truly think about all the people who you meet through the journey of your life, I am guessing the majority of them are going to fit into one of the first two categories. The thing we don’t always think about, though, is that these relationships are having some sort of mark on our lives. It may be as small as smiling as you walk across the playground and remember the kid who liked to play hopscotch with you and you decide to teach your kid one day, or admiring an old acquaintances strength because you knew what it took for her to get there, or maybe even always remembering the day you “lost” your phone that wild night at Sing Sings only to learn someone actually took it. And if you are lucky, maybe..just maybe, you will have the chance to get reunited with some of these old friends, but in a new way. You will realize you are older and wiser-and that this had a lot to do with them. You will realize you have more in common than you realize, and you continue to stay in touch. And now with Facebook, you may even end up occasionally keeping in touch with those you didn’t think you would.

One of my favorite jobs was working in restaurants. I think I would have been a much more pleasant person if I never went into management, because there was a slight problem of a small girl in a big boy’s world. I just wasn’t quite ready. So I wasn’t the best person I could have been, and really I didn’t even know who I was then. But the great thing about restaurants is there is turnover…and then there is the core team. The team who sticks by no matter what. The dysfunctional family. The team who loves and hates each other literally over a beer and some wings that went to the wrong table. The group that can tell your day by the look on your face. The group where one girl may hate another to the depth of her soul, but the second she comes in desperate and crying all that is out the window and a shoulder is offered. This is the real meat and potatoes of the restaurant business. This is the real family, the real love, the real support. There are crushes that are never realized, words that can never be taken back, friendships that will never end, nights out that will never be remembered (or spoken about if they are)…and there are even quite a few weddings and babies. One of my hardest days was leaving this life. I literally felt like I was driving away from my 20-something’s and into adulthood. And I missed the people who I would no longer see on a daily basis. And then I married one of them and had two beautiful children ❤

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But in this group, as I said, being put in the position of manager when I had things to prove to my own bosses and still had no idea who I was left me…well it left me bitchy. I had my “favorites”, I had my “challenges”, and I certainly had my “okay, we can drink together but seriously I want to freaking kill you at work” group. One of those later members was Tony. This man could challenge me, I am telling you! Some days he was an awesome listener, a great buddy to drink with, a fantastic encourager, my bodyguard when some crazy drunk walked in and passed out in the restaurant, and he always..ALWAYS heated up my car for me and wiped of the window at two a.m. when we left. On the flip side, the Mexican in him and the Italian in me were like oil and water and when our tempers started, very little could stop them.

After I left, after I got married, had children, settled down and lived a bit more, I thought back to the me, then. I thought “dang…what a bitch!” But I will also still justify many of my actions were to cover my own ass and do my own job. But I had to be a boss OR a friend, and that just isn’t what I do. I loved these people. I felt proud as I watched the younger ones grow up and graduate. I felt my heart tug when some would go through breakups. My heart was crushed when some girls had to deal with life a little early. My heart got mad when the one I really really liked just didn’t seem to get it. And then I met my husband. And our lives changed. And we moved on.

Not too long ago, Tony messaged me on Facebook. I am not going to lie, I was surprised! I thought “great, how is he going to humiliate me now”. But that isn’t what he wanted. What he did want was to say hello, all is forgiven, and thanks. We had a few good exchanges, we said what I thought were “talk soons” but were actually goodbyes. And then tonight I learned he was taken off of life support. I don’t know what to feel. I feel ashamed at myself because for the life of me I can only think of one reason I felt strongly enough to remember why we were arguing. It doesn’t matter now. I am thankful for the times we were friends. And I am grateful I got to talk to him again. And I am grateful that he taught me how to get a backbone, expect more from certain people, learn to let a little go and for the love of God ease up.

I can see him so clearly now in his uniform that had WAY too much change in the apron and was forever jingling as he walked. I can see him smile at me and tell me he can’t see me over the wall by the bar. I can even see him shaking his head at me as I just can’t seem to figure out which game to put on which t.v. He may not have always worked as quickly as I wanted, but he was a good employee, and his guests loved him.

So Tony, thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for being a pain in my ass, a great friend, a fun co-worker and a fantastic person. Thank you for contacting me, for giving me the chance to make amends with you. Thank you for all that you have done for so many of us (because I am not sure nearly as many pranks would have been pulled without you!). You and your family are in my prayers.

And to Andy, Alan, Angela, Cara, Brandon, Laura, Emma, Maple, Josh, BJ (Mais, not the hubs), Joe John and Sara, Jessica, Mike, Adam, Cozz, Carl, Beth, Reed, Cody, Irene, Hemp, Claire and so very many more that I know I am forgetting. In honor of Tony, I want to tell each and every one of you that you have meant something to me. All of you have changed me, all of you have made me a better person. And it was truly an honor to watch you grow up (some more than others 😉 ) It was an honor to feel baby bumps and look at wedding pictures and take walks down memory lane. I will also miss our days at Woody’s, and I will always remember the good times-because let’s face it, I don’t look so good in the bad times HA! I wish you all the best.

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