It's highly probable that my and Malcolm's paths wouldn't have crossed after we went our separate ways after leaving our jobs at the old folks home. We were a generation apart, just coworkers really, I didn't know his family or friends outside of work.
But then came the day he died. I doubt I will ever forget finding out. It was a Sunday, and the evening shift was clocking in. One of the girls, Ella, looked to us all, "Is it true? Did you guys hear? About Malcolm?"
She pulled up posts on Instagram from mutual friends, none of them stating it in so many words, but leaving little other option. Walk chalk messages and hearts, "RIP, Malcolm"... what else could they mean?
We all pulled out our phones, looking to see if anyone else knew anything, the younger crew Snapchatting away. It couldn't be true. Could it?
I texted him. He never texted back.
Shortly after, it was confirmed to us from HR. It's been over three months now, and think of Malcolm often. I think of silly things that happened at work. It was certainly not a glamorous job at all, but it was one that was rich with teamwork. I don't miss the work, but I miss those coworkers.
Watching all these kids going back to school, and freshmen moving into dorms, I think of Malcolm and his family. He'd planned to start at the university this fall and major in business after taking the year after high school off because of the COVID lockdown.
I think of the lost potential and the void he left behind.
His mom reports that they still get middle-of-the-night chalk messages that mean so much to them. He would have turned 20 last week. His dad posted:
Yep, he would like that. And it's easy to "give a little thought" to Malcolm.