My good friend and colleague Kathleen, who is seven years younger than I am, decided to take a very generous early retirement offer. (I declined the same offer.) The day before Thanksgiving was her last day at work.
I know what's it's like to not have Kathleen around because she was away for six months in 2008 while she fought lymphoma. This is different. It's permanent. Sure, we'll remain friends, but when I find an unexpected moment to take a lunch break, she won't be just upstairs to join me.
Then on Thursday, we had a good-bye luncheon for Louisa, another colleague who is taking early retirement. She, too, is younger than I am. That leaves me as the only representative of my generation among my close co-workers.
Having younger colleagues is a plus in many ways. It's great to be able to talk with them about their dreams and aspirations in a time when they have so many options that didn't exist when I was their age. Their challenges are different, but my perspective from having been around for so long can often be helpful to them. I love it when they ask for my guidance. I try not to dwell on how things used to be.
When I want to do that, Kathleen is only a phone call away.