She received a phone call and stepped out of the room.
I heard a cry like I've never heard before. It was the cry from a pain that went beyond the surface and beyond the heart. It was a cry from a pain way down deep and I could only imagine the source of such pain.
It sounded like a cry from the pain of losing your only child. The heart wrenching kind of cry that has the power to bring one to his or her knees.
We all wanted to rush to her aide, but the first step in managing a crisis is to remain calm.
So we all awaited the news as one of us went to see what had happened.
Tears were already falling from the eyes of many in the room. It was hard to hold them back as the sound of that cry replayed in our heads. It had to be bad.
We got the news. Her brother had been shot and was reported to be in critical condition.
There was an immediate outpouring of sympathy and empathy in the room. We hurt for her and with her, though not all of us could identify with that degree of pain. Some losses are expected, though still hard, our hearts are cushioned when it "makes sense".
I relived the night, several years ago, when I received a phone call that my own brother had been shot. My brother lived, but I remember not knowing if he would.
To have someone you loved suddenly and tragically taken away from you can sometimes feel like having your heart snatched right from your chest.
All those in the room felt my colleague's pain. We thought of our own families. Some of us made calls and sent text messages to our loved ones just to say, "I love you" or to hear their voices.
We thought about the fights, arguments, silent treatments, grudges, animosity, and pettiness. We thought about being too busy with work that we cannot spend time with those we love and care for or with those who need us most. We shared stories of how tomorrow didn't come and how opportunity checked out early.
Another colleague of mine told the story that her father had never learned to read and how she had promised him that she would teach him. Every time he would ask her about it, she just kept telling him that she would teach him the next time. She said, "I always thought I had tomorrow." Her father died before she made time to teach him to read.
For the past twelve years, she has carried the book from which she was going to teach him around in a zip-lock bag as a reminder "not to put off for tomorrow what she could do today."
What would be your story? Would you be full of regrets, heavy with the burden of knowing you never did what you said you would do?
Promises never kept, trips never taken, calls never made, letters never written, emails never sent. Hugs never given, "I love you-s" never said, "I'm sorry-s" never uttered, time never spent, laughs never shared, books never read.
Tomorrow may never come. Think about it-today.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.