Last Tuesday, I lost my job at Blue Cross. It didn't come as a surprise knowing that the company is going through a major restructuring and given my part-time status, I had a feeling that my job might be vulnerable. Given that, it was still a shock that it actually happened. Sometimes you think you're prepared for something, but when it actually happens, you find you're not as prepared as you thought. I felt like that last year when my Mom died of cancer. Though I knew she was terminally ill, I still can't believe she's really gone.
Losing a job, of course, is nothing compared to losing a loved one. Jobs are commodities that can be replaced, people are not. However, losing my job has stirred up a whirlpool of emotions and loss. One of the things that was most difficult about the way they let me go at Blue Cross was not being able to go back to my desk to collect my personal things or say goodbye to anyone. Once they decide they don't want you anymore, they make it very clear you are no longer welcome in the building. My manager had to go back upstairs and bring me my purse and coat. Then, she had to pack up my personal things (which, btw, they don't send to your house; they make you suffer the humiliation of going back to pick them up). She had to take down my arrangement of photos of my three beautiful children -- the pictures that have smiled back at me for nearly 6 years, including, of course, pictures of sweet Natalie. It may sound strange, but knowing that Natalie's picture is no longer up at my desk saddens me a lot. It's like I've lost another piece of her.
I am also very sad that I will no longer see my fellow co-workers who have been my friends, supporting me through everything I've been through these last 4 1/2 years since Natalie died: losing my precious daughter; my miscarriage; riding the roller coaster of infertility that finally culminated in the best thing to happen in a long time, Gabriel; my mother taking ill, moving to Providence, being diagnosed with cancer and dieing. Throughout all this, my marriage has suffered its share of ups and downs. Chris had heart surgery in January. Roslyn had a traumatic bike accident in April. My father-in-law died just three weeks ago and now my job has been "eliminated." It's a lot for anyone to bear, and though they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, I am starting to feel weaker, like maybe I can't take much more.
Losing the daily contact with my Blue Cross friends means another piece of Natalie is gone, too. They were there to support me during that terrible time and over the years. They planted a tree in Roger Williams Park in her name. I wrote an award-winning article about grief in Choices magazine with their support. They've been wonderful to me throughout it all and I am ever grateful. Will they forget about her now that I'm gone, too?
Some days when I lie down with Gabriel to nurse him in the morning, I actually cry for joy that he woke up today. I consciously thank the universe and him that he continues to breathe in and out and it makes me want to squeeze him so hard that I never let go. Of course, I do let go so he can go about his day, attending to important matters like climbing onto the desk to dump out the pencil holder for the XXth time, peeling the paper off every crayon in the box (after dumping them all out on the floor, of course), and pointing out the window when he sees a bird ("bir") or a squirrel. He is pure JOY.
And so, no matter how bad things may seem, I always try to enjoy and appreciate the beauty and joy of what I have -- my wonderful family, friends, and a house to call home.
Here's the four of us at the dedication ceremony of the Remembrance Garden of The Compassionate Friends of Greater Providence where Natalie's name is engraved on one of the stones.