Last week, I learned of the unexpected death of my colleague and friend, Rob Inglis. He had a long career as the Director of IT at TriMark R.W. Smith. He was in that role when I joined the company as the newly appointed Director of Ecommerce & Marketing. I was exuberant and exhaustively driven, while Rob was methodical and measured. No doubt he looked upon me as a kinetic, Jack Russell-type, while I, in turn, had little appreciation for his calm, conventional approach. Somehow he managed to tolerate my unapologetic zeal and rigorous pace, along with my book-length emails with too many exclamation marks.
Within that first year, we ultimately had to come together, as we faced multiple technology and database challenges with the development and launch of the new ecommerce platform. The company relied on our partnership to resolve problems, design solutions, and execute action plans in alignment and in tandem.
I cannot point to a day or an event when the axis of our consciousness tethered, and the foundation of our relationship had a seismic shift (to the great relief of many witnessing our tautness).
What started merely as a “meeting of the minds” continued to evolve to greater depths of appreciation, gratitude, and humble respect. We discovered each other’s humor, aspirations, personal experiences, and professional goals. We shared our authentic voices. We began to lean on each other to be better at our individual craftsmanship. I opened my eyes to his talent and he embraced mine. Our humanity unfolded.
Over time, a genuine friendship formed as we further exposed our hidden spaces and revealed our vulnerabilities. I learned of his love and devotion for his wife and family. He became an advocate for my career goals. As “opposite” as we may have been, a bond forged that became precious to me. People often joked that he was my “work husband”, which was a bit true when you count how often I was at his office door needing his time and attention.
In my frequent moments of animated sharing, I failed to account for what he was privately enduring, and the toll it sometimes took. He simply put aside his unspoken struggles to accommodate my frenzied or fleeting thoughts, as though they truly deserved merit and rumination.
That is the truest form of giving in full presence and care. He cast aside his own troubles to hear of mine, even if they didn’t measure to more than a ripple in the tide.
Rob shall always remain a special friend in my heart and mind. By partaking in his journey, I’m gifted with the ability to thrive on the wings of his inherent patience and endless encouragement.
I’ll carry forward with the work that we both devoted ourselves to, never losing sight of the fact that his actions and efforts were often the source of light by which I could shine.
I grieve deeply for his family, and wish them comfort and peace in their days ahead. R.I.P. Rob.