How My Atomic Coworkers Supported Me Through Tragedy

One of the advantages of working at Atomic is the company culture. That was apparent during a story I’ll tell about a time they put those values into practice supporting a coworker.

It was a November afternoon leading into our first pandemic winter in 2020. I was the Delivery Lead of a large project with a big team, doing what most people did at that time… sitting in a virtual meeting. Then, I got an unexpected call from my wife.

She was 32 weeks pregnant and at her obstetrician’s office for a routine ultrasound (partners were not allowed for covid safety reasons). She was nearly unintelligible through her tears, but she managed to tell me something was wrong. Then, she rushed to the maternity ward at the hospital.

Without hesitation, I left the meeting, closed my laptop, and sent a quick message to the other team leads from my phone letting them know I had a family emergency and would be out the remainder of the day.


What followed was a three-week marathon of hospital time filled with consultations with Maternal-Fetal Medicine teams, Pediatric Cardiologists, Pediatric Nephrologists, OBs, RNs, and an army of nurses. My wife had a dozen or more ultrasounds.

Then, on December 18, 2020 our son, Brooks, was born. He stuck around long enough to meet us (and Santa) before he passed away two days later on December 20th. Brooks suffered from a genetic disease called Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD). His kidneys couldn’t function, limiting his lungs’ ability to develop adequately.

Brooks Santa.

It was the most difficult time of my life.

I am not writing this to garner sympathy. What I failed to highlight in the story above is all of the support my coworkers, managers, and Atomic gave my family throughout, and continues to give us. Where I work allowed me not to worry about work when I had more important things to worry about.

Supporting a Coworker: From PTO to Food Delivery

Nearly all my coworkers supported me in some way.

Taylor Vanden Hoek and Jason Porritt immediately took the Delivery Lead reins on our project. They quickly got up to speed on my current priorities and worked with our client to manage expectations. They divvied up my responsibilities and ensured a critical project stayed on track without pulling me into anything.

Jeff Williams and Brittany Hunter reached out to reinforce that family comes first. They told me to take whatever time I needed, regardless of PTO guidelines. Jeff called me often during our hospital stay to check in on my wife and me and to continue to offer his support.

Patrick Bacon offered time and attention. He helped distract me when I needed distraction and offered empathy when I wanted to talk about the situation.

My teammates pooled money for food delivery services and gift cards for hospital restaurants so my partner and I didn’t have to think about eating. Colleagues sent flowers, words of support and empathy, or gifts to make our hospital stay as comfortable as possible.

And, when we started a scholarship to remember Brooks’ short, but impactful legacy, my coworkers contributed in droves.

Rising to the Occasion

So, I’m not writing this post to garner sympathy. I’m writing it to share a story about a company and the people there that rose to the occasion when a teammate needed help… and to share the story of one incredible kid.


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