The fundamentals of Life and Death hit CurrentMarketing this week. And they hit hard.
A tragic automobile accident on Sunday night, stole the nineteen-year-old son of our COO and Culture Queen, Lisa Schardein. Our President, Rick Schardein, lost his stepson. Rick’s children, Sarah and Spencer, lost their dear stepbrother. And Adam Tague lost his joined-at-the-hip cousin.
Monday morning for the Schardien/Koier clans remains unfathomable for those of us who haven’t experienced such horror personally. For those of us in the office, there was a heavy fog over our collective day. I don’t think anyone could go more than a few minutes without thinking of our friends and the incredible pain that had begun to swallow them up at 4:40 Monday morning.
Some of us are blessed to have known Ben Koier since he was three years old, shortly after Lisa and Rick had found each other and Lisa began working here at CM. “Where’s my mom?” he was known to say. In person. Over the phone. Wherever.
Ben loved his mom and couldn’t seem to bear being away from her for very long. Ben would sometimes show up at CM, helping out with fulfillment. There was a broad, nearly everpresent smile on the young man’s face. (We say “nearly,” because the teen-aged Ben was prone to putting on a tuff-gruff facade. But I think we all knew he was just a teddy bear.) We saw that big smile on photo after photo last evening at Camp Rick & Lisa as the family waded through images for Ben’s visitation.
When we saw Lisa last, she was holding on to one of her last moments with Ben. After having dinner with Lisa and Rick upon their return from a trip on Sunday night, “he gave me a big bear hug – he always gave the best hugs – and told me how much he loved me.” Ben then left the house to take some friends home, the trip from which he wouldn’t return.
We’re going to borrow now from Fr. Jack Conley of St. Agnes Church here in Louisville. His homily at the February 2011 funeral of another young man touched us deeply and remains with us today…
Puccini, great composer of operas like Madame Butterfly, La Boheme.
Rather young contracted cancer,
but he chose to spend his last days
writing his final opera, Turandot,
arguably, his most polished piece.
When his friends and disciples would say to him,
“Your are ailing, take it easy and rest.”
He would always respond,
“I’m going to do as much as I can on this piece
and it’s up to you, my friends, to finish it if I don’t.”
Well, Puccini died before the opera was completed.
Now his friends had a choice.
They could forever mourn their friend and return to life as usual
or they could build on his melody and his genius
and complete what he had started.
They chose the latter.
So in 1926, La Scala Opera House in Milan,
Turandot was performed for the first time.
Famous Arturo Toscanini conducted.
Middle of second act, Toscanini stopped everything,
turned around with tears welling up in his eyes,
and said to the crammed opera house,
“This is where the maestro ends. He wept.
But then, after a few moments, he lifted his head, smiled broadly, and said,
“And this is where his friends began,” raising the baton,
And he finished the opera.
All too often we forget how fragile life is. How short it can be. And how small, unexpected turns can change things forever. Today, you can finish the opus that began as the first 19 years of Ben Koier’s life…or maybe write your own. Your composition could be to forgive someone you think has wronged you. Or reconnecting with someone you lost touch with years ago. Or maybe – like Ben – you could simply hug someone dear to you and tell them how much you love them. It’s up to each of us to finish this piece for ourselves.
So long, Ben. Godspeed. We love you and miss you already.
The Employee Owners of CurrentMarketing