Today I got an email from a former coworker of mine 'A', telling me that his wife, 'B', who was also a coworker, had passed away last month. He said that they were married recently, and have a 3 year old daughter. She was 49.
They were both extremely private people, and he didn't give any details, and I did not find any in the obituary listing. I do not know how much of the secrecy was inherent in B's personality, and how much was due to them starting their relationship when they were coworkers and A was possibly still married to someone else - I suspect it was a bit of both.* Our former company was a bit of a fishbowl in that regard and I can totally understand the need for secrecy. Even after they had both moved to Southern California, they did not let it slip that they were together, and the first official mention that they were together was in the email telling me that she had died. I'm not one for wearing my heart on my sleeve, but that in itself makes me profoundly sad.
It is kind of weird to write about someone who was so private and whom I did not know well. I worked with B for several years, but I did not know her that well. I always assumed that she was several years younger than me, based on when she graduated and the fact that she looked younger, but today I found out she was actually seven years older than me. She had a dry sense of humor, and managed to stay out of the office politics with grace and dignity. Her death hit me hard, even though we hadn't spoken in several years.
* I've got good old biddy relationship radar when it comes to speculating on people's love lives, but I deliberately turn it off and keep my mouth shut when it comes to people who are friends first. Although I know this often leads to relationships, I turn a blind eye and resist the urge to gossip simply because back in the day it used to piss the hell out of me when people assumed that my male friends and I were sleeping together.