Dr. Joe

I knew a man named Joe. A very kind, mild-mannered gentleman who lived in my community.  We had a lot in common.  As I write this (September 2019), we were both 57 years old, married, each of us had two daughters.  We both worked for pharmaceutical companies.

I should mention that Joe was brilliant. He had a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering.  He had 100 patents and presentations in glycoprotein synthesis.  He was a world expert in what he did.

Joe led a very public life. He was on the boards of multiple organizations.  He helped people from his country of origin establish themselves in the United States. He was charitable.  He gave his time in order to better the lives of others.


Joe was also struggled in this life.  He lived publicly, but a few weeks ago, he died privately.

For reasons that I cannot explain, I Googled his name this week.  I hadn’t seen him in a while, and I was wondering how he was.  The first thing that popped up in the search results was his obituary.

I don’t know how he died. I don’t know why he died.  I do know that he died on August 13th (five weeks ago), and there was no funeral service that I know of.  The funeral home notice said “no services are scheduled at this time”.

He died five weeks ago, and I didn’t know it.  None of my friends did, either.  We spent this weekend trying to make sense of this.  We haven’t done so yet.


I spent the weekend thinking about how Joe lived, and how he died.  I still do not understand how a world-renowned scientist can die, and not have a service, and not have his friends know for 5 weeks that he died.

It makes me wonder if it is possible for me to die, and not have anyone know it for five weeks.  I spoke to my wife about this, and we realized that neither of us have the phone numbers for each others’ bosses.  If I died, Theresa would have to Google the main number for my company and let them know that I died.  I would have to do the same for her.

We each have numbers for friends and relatives on our own phones.  But I would not be able to access Theresa’s phone, and call the people in her Contact list.  I would call her immediate family, and then hope for the best.  She would do the same for me. (As a postscript, we now know each others’ telephone passwords, so we can access each others’ Contact list).


Joe’s death has really saddened me.  I look at his death, and I connect the dots to my own death.  I realize that I am an introvert, and it scares me that I could pass away alone, and no one would know.  I don’t think that is realistic, but I don’t think Joe would have thought that was possible, either.

I hope he finds peace in the hereafter.  I hope his family finds peace in the here and now.


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