I am one who truly believes that everything happens for a reason. The people that we meet along our paths help up to build the paths to our future. My life is no exception to this rule. Several years ago I lost my job when the economy started going to hell. I was petrified. I was alone with two small children and I could not go without even a single paycheck without risk of losing my home and everything I had worked so hard to achieve.
That’s when a new friend at the time let me know that her best friend since childhood was in upper management at a company in the town where I lived and they were hiring. This was great news. The town I lived in at the time and was very rural and the population consisted mainly of people that had been there for generations and I was an outsider. It was nothing intentional but if you have ever lived in a small town then you know what I mean. I NEEDED this job. It was this or factory work on third shift and I couldn’t leave my children alone at night.
I went to the office and turned in my application. I waited by the phone. I prayed. I cried. I called to check on the status of my application and finally I had an interview. Then a second interview….then a third. I was hired. I was so excited and so scared all at the same time. The job I was about to start was a completely knew experience for me and I was afraid I would fail miserably.
I didn’t. I excelled actually. I was now a part of a team of about 60 people…. 99% of which were women. I worked in an upstairs office with a handful of these women and honestly, I looked forward to seeing their faces each and every day.
During this time I had a lot going on in my personal life. I had just found out that my daughter had been abused by a family friend. My partner of 2 years had committed suicide, my fiancé decided she couldn’t follow through with the marriage because it was too scary and my actual family was non existent and those that were around were more like weights on the ankles of a drowning man rather than the life raft that was so desperately needed.
I lost my mind. I don’t mean figuratively. I mean I literally LOST my mind. I had no will to live any longer. I felt as though I couldn’t protect my own children (a guilt I let consume me for many reasons…but that’s for another day), I felt as though I was going to be alone forever and I couldn’t make peace with losing someone I hadn’t been able to have closure with. I wasn’t even “good enough” for my own mother to help me…I was stumbling blindly across the darkness that was consuming me. So I decided to end it. I took my children to a coworkers house and I went to buy a new set of razor blades. I sat in the parking lot of the store for what felt like hours before I found myself driving to the local ER. I don’t remember how I got there. I don’t remember walking in. I do remember telling my nurse I would die if I didn’t get help.
I was handcuffed (for my safety and he safety of others) and transported to a mental hospital an hour away in the back of a squad car. I remained in that hospital for a week. My mother came to see me once and made me feel worse for being there. She told me I was being selfish and I asked her to leave. I was in extensive therapy the entire time. Group and one on one. I couldn’t have shoe laces…or a belt. Showers were supervised if I wanted to shave my legs. I changed. I experienced people just like me that just didn’t know how to cope with life. People that had the same experiences as I had and some that had worse.
I changed. Upon release the new doctor that was there called my name and looked at her notebook (we all had our pictures taken upon admission) when I stood up. She looked back at me and back at the notebook and had a look in her eye that said, “the crazies are playing a trick on me”. I didn’t understand. “It’s me.” I said. She turned to book around and showed me my picture. I was shocked. I didn’t even recognize the girl in the picture. She was pale, her eyes were dead and sunken in. She looked like a lost little boy that had just flat given up.
I was released, I went home and I hugged my children. My regular therapist kept me out of work for 3 more weeks to filter back into work slowly. And I needed that. Very few of the women I worked with knew what was actually going on.
And then the phone calls started. All of these women were checking on me. Letting me know they loved me and even though not many of them knew what was going on they wanted me to know they were there for me. All I had to do was ask.
Over the next years at this job I found my family. Not the family that I was born from, but a brand new family that CHOSE each other. We were all inseparable.
Not a day went by that at least one of us didn’t lend an ear or a shoulder or a kind word to another. Then 2 years ago we found out that our office was being shut down and all of our work was moving to Ohio. We were all devastated. Not because our job was disappearing, but because we were all going to be separated. We knew that life would cause us to drift apart. And it did. A few of us found work with a few others but the big group of nearly 60 women had dissipated.
Then tragedy struck 2 days ago. One of us was killed. She and her husband were taken away from us by Mother Nature. The tornados that frequent our area took their lives and left us all in shock. Not them. Not such a loving couple. Not this woman who was like a mother to us all. Not the woman that held many hands and made us all laugh.
It has been years since we have all seen each other together in one place. And at the funeral we will all be there. Holding each other up. Sharing our memories with each other. Loving each other as a family once again. It is terrible that these are the circumstances that are uniting us but she will be there with us. She will forever be in our hearts.