God, why is this happening to me now? I thought when I left the office for the last time.
Posted in , Oct 28, 2013
“A troubled marriage.” That’s what our working relationship had become, my company’s CEO told me, the morning he fired me.
It didn’t make any sense. Sure, we’d had some strategic differences over the way our technology consulting firm operated, but I’d spent nearly every waking minute of the past ten years helping to build the company from its infancy.
I’d worked 50-hour weeks, putting vacation time and family time on hold to manage one of its branch offices to profitability. My husband and I didn’t have children–I often called the office my extended family.
“You’re no longer a good fit here,” the CEO said, driving his message home.
God, why is this happening to me now? I thought when I left the office for the last time. The CEO offered me a generous severance package–six months’ pay, as long as I didn’t take another job in the same industry for that period of time. Okay–money wouldn’t be an issue. But my work had been the most important thing in my life. Now that had been taken away–and I didn’t understand why.
I was still trying to make sense of that when my mom, my sister and I met with my father’s doctor the next morning. “Your father’s lung cancer has spread to his brain,” his doctor said. Suddenly, my job didn’t seem so important.
“Dad, what can I do?” I said, when I saw him later that morning. “I’ll do anything.”
The next months were a flurry of doctor appointments, treatment sessions and errand runs. Every waking minute, I tried to make Dad as comfortable as I could. I may have been out of work, but it didn’t feel like it. I had a new job. I even wore my nicer clothes, because Dad preferred “a lady in a dress.”
Our days together were painful, yet precious. We laughed, we cried, we told old stories. His sense of humor never failed. Like one night, when Dad couldn’t breathe, and he was put on an oxygen machine. Fearing the worst, I recited the 23rd Psalm. The next morning, though, he awoke. “I’m still here,” he said, winking. “I heard you give me the last rites… not time for those yet, honey.”
I wept at his bedside his final night alive, keeping vigil with the rest of my family. He died almost four months to the day following his diagnosis. Four months after I thought nothing could be more painful than losing my job.
Now I know better. Shortly after my severance ended I got a new job, a far less time-consuming one, as a business development manager. I’ve got my priorities straight. Family comes first. I’m thankful I got the chance to learn that, before it was too late.