X died one night, lived on just a little longer and now he is gone

In the morning, his existence was established by his absence. His non-presence brought him to mind, placed him in the consciousness of others. His material non-existence created voids filled with the potentiality of his being there, because he clearly and materially was not there in any shape or form. Behind his name plate on the office door sat an empty room that would, in the coming weeks, have to appear on written proposals for its re-allocation. It would have to be discussed as his office. The new occupant would, for a while at least, guide people to his own presence by referring to it in terms of the space vacated by X: ‘I’m in room along the corridor. You know, X’s old office.’ People would nod, recognise the name, feel his existence and orientate themselves through his non-presence. Minutes would record his absence and also make him real again. Sorrows would be expressed and noted at his passing, arrangements made for a collection, an annual memorial tribute would be discussed and notes of condolence drafted and distributed to his loved ones. His unfinished tasks would be re-allocated or, perhaps more likely with the passing of time, be discussed and agreement reached to leave them undone.

Soon, these voids of potentiality would be filled, closing off a vague notion that his existence was continuing. The new office occupant would move the desk by a few degrees, replace the books on the shelf and, through time and convention, fill the space with his own existence. The last team, office and committee minutes recording his name and the eventual failure, after much consideration, to find quite the right format for that lasting tribute and the votes cast instead to make a donation in his name to the firms benevolent fund, would be moved to the archive.

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