i remember that day. my first “real” job in awhile. i walked into the training room and a sea of new faces, smiling nervously as i sat down. we played a “get-t0-know-ya” game, where we shared a few facts about ourselves, and i shared some easy to digest vittles, such as “i started an art gallery” and “i live downtown.”
but she, well, i’ll never forget what Tiffany shared. she was the number 3 dart-thrower in the state and had “cadaver dogs,” dogs that were used by the police to find dead bodies. in a room full of typical answers–i just graduated college and i’ve worked at this call-center or that customer-service job, Tiffany immediately stood out to me.
for 4 1/2 long weeks, we reported back to that training room each day, learning the ins and outs of timeshare ownership and vacation-booking. Tiffany was a natural, and i envied her ability to pick things up so quickly. but her personality was never one that fostered envy. in fact, she was always ready with a smile, and a “hello,” and a “how are you?”
how ironic that just 6 mos later, the handful of us still left with the company would return to that training room to process the loss of one of our own. earlier in the morning, work had come to a grinding halt as our management stood in the midst of us to deliver the horrible news: Tiffany had been killed in a car accident.
i felt like a board had hit me across the face, and i felt tears come to my eyes involuntarily. i have to get out of here, i thought, and made my way to the door. i bummed a smoke from a friend, and sat in the chilly sunshine of the morning, trying to wrap my mind around what i’d just heard. our trainer made contact with me later, and asked if i would be interested in visiting with the grief counselor with the rest of my class. i said yeah, if other people wanted to, i would join.
we walked into the training room, a strange feeling of formality choking out the desire i felt to let my grief hang out. in the corner, near the front, sat a lady surrounded a haphazard group of chairs. we took our seats, just as silent as that first day. just as awkward in how to proceed.
but proceed we finally did. we spent nearly an hour processing our responses, wondering how a person could go so quickly from existing to not existing, realizing how destroyed we would be if our sister/mother/father/boyfriend were the one who had died, talking about Tiffany and the kind of person she was. we shared stories about conversations we’d just had with her, about how she was looking forward to the holidays and vacation with family, how she had recently just assumed guardianship of her niece. we even talked through what little we knew about the accident, all of us hungry to know the details, hoping, i think, to figure out just what went wrong. we lamented that we, and all those that knew and loved her, were having to say good-bye too soon.
most importantly, we agreed that Tiffany was a beautiful soul, who brought so much to those around her. so here’s to you, Tiffany Carol Shull; this world is certainly a better place because you were in it; and a lonelier place because you’re gone. may you rest in peace.