By Dean Whittaker

As I sat beside the hospital bed of a friend who had suffered a heart attack this week, I reflected on our friendship and what it has meant to me. Although we haven’t known each other a very long time, I felt a brotherly connection to him. We had gone to New Orleans together after Katrina to lend a hand to the local economic development agency. We are both sailors, have a keen interest in learning, and have a passion for understanding economics. When the prognosis was that open heart surgery would be required, we both became more concerned. Following a lengthy surgery (seven hours) and multiple bi-passes, he is now in recovery.

For me, this situation was another reminder of the fragility and brevity of life and the importance of taking care of unfinished business those relationships that were strained or broken through no one’s fault and often the result of fear pushing love from our heart. This month I reconnected with two former employees (and friends), each of whom left Whittaker Associates to start their own competing firms. Initially, when they left, I felt betrayed and hurt by their actions. But, as it has been said, Time heals all wounds. Eventually, I realized that they each did what they needed to do. Most companies have their origin as spin-offs from other companies. It is just painful when it is your company from which the birthing takes place.

It was gratifying to learn that the two firms are still in business (one for five years and the other for over a year). I winced a little when they mentioned former clients which are currently their clients, but that is to be expected too.

As my friend recov