We started out as coworkers, and eventually I was sort of his boss. Malcolm was one of the young "pups" of which I found myself the den mother.
When I think of Malcolm, I think of how patient he was with the elderly residents in his care, kindly coaxing them out of their confusion or loudly but gently asking them to "PUT IN YOUR HEARING AIDS". Like the rest of us, he tired of wearing the gowns, the N95 masks, etc. but he did it without complaint, looking forward to when the residents could come out of their rooms and socialize.
And mostly, he was just a sweet kid.
In the kitchen, he was known for his "legendary" breakfasts. Working the day shift, we could order anything for our breaks, and the cooks gladly obliged while we all marveled at Malcolm's metabolism. They loved his huge orders, and he was also their "go to" whenever they needed a taste tester for new recipes.
He once casually asked me what my favorite lunch special was, and I voted for chicken saltimbocca. The next time the cooks prepared that dish, Malcolm took it upon himself to stash a serving away for me.
I can honestly say that, although he was so young and I'm old enough (and then some) to be his mom, I'm a better person for having known Malcolm. He found a new job about a month ago and left our care facility after deciding he didn't want to get the COVID vaccine just yet. I told him he'd be greatly missed, but it was a good new opportunity for him.
He tragically died last weekend. He was just 19 years old, taking the year off before starting college because of the pandemic.
From what we've been able to gather without being too pushy, he smoked some weed that was - unbeknownst to him - laced with fentanyl.
Dammit, Malcolm. Damn world.
This whole work week, we've shuffled along like zombies, trying to remain cheerful if only in appearance. A couple of residents have picked up on it, and I confessed that I'd unexpectedly lost a good friend.
They offer sweet words of comfort and encouragement since, heaven knows, they know grief, having lived as long as they have. I still couldn't bring myself to tell any of them that it was Malcolm we'd lost.
Rest In Peace, sweet Malcolm.
I still hear you and believe I see signs of you letting me know that you're still here with us, but just out of reach. All these little coincidences...
I'm grateful to have known you.
I'll never forget you.
Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: light