The Worst Month of My Life…
February 1, 2012 § 4 Comments
Otherwise known as…How to lose your mind in 30 days or less.
In that one month my entire world crumbled and life as I knew it ceased to exist.
It started with a trip on the sidewalk on my way into work. I fell, coffee cup in hand, and broke my right arm. It was a compound fracture and required an ambulance ride, a two night stay in the hospital, lots of morphine, orthopedic surgery, a six inch steel plate and six matching metal screws to fix. As a right hander, I struggled with my recovery. Thankfully, I was able to stay with my mom and my step dad, Larry, for two weeks. They opened their home to me and helped me to get back on my feet.
I returned to work after just one week off. I had just gotten back into the swing of things when I was called out of a Tuesday morning meeting with the Marketing team I managed for an urgent telephone call. It was my roommate and friend Dean. He had the unfortunate task of telling me that my step dad – the very one I had just lived with for the last two weeks – had died suddenly and quite unexpectedly in the middle of the night. He was 57 years old.
This was a man I fiercely loved. Larry made my mom happier than she had been in her entire life. He was a character and everyone loved and respected him. The most ironic thing about Larry’s death was that his mother had just passed away in August…only one month earlier. He spoke at her funeral. And, in his usual fashion, he managed to get everyone laughing – even with tears in their eyes. The thing I remember most distinctly about that service was that the last thing he said while speaking. “Mom, I love you and I’ll see you again someday soon…just hopefully not too soon!” At the time, it got a chuckle out of all of us gathered to pay our respects. Little did we know at the time how quickly that would come to pass.
The company that I was working for at the time had the most disrespectful bereavement policy I had ever encountered. You were allowed one day off with pay…whether it was your dog, your neighbor, your child, your spouse or your parent…one day of paid time off to mourn your loved one. Needless to say, I took the remainder of Tuesday off and also took unpaid time for the remainder of the week. I needed the time to mourn with my family and help my mom get all of her affairs in order.
I returned to work the following week and spent the morning in my office preparing for a project I was working on. At 10:00am I was called in to the Human Resources office and told that after 364 days as the company’s Marketing Manager, the job – my job – had been eliminated. Please clear off your desk while someone from human resources hovers over you and we whisk your team into the conference room so no one has to look at you as you carry your box of belongings to the elevator thank you very much you pathetic thing you.
I stood in the lobby of the building dumbfounded. Too much too fast to even absorb had just transpired in my life. After a couple of minutes staring into the box of things I had collected from my desk, I walked to my car…stepping gingerly over the spot on the sidewalk that had tripped me up just three weeks earlier.
Thankfully, the month of September finally came to an end. The string of bad luck, however, continued well into the following year and beyond.
I was ahead of the curve, you see. The financial crash wasn’t widely recognized until well into the end of 2008. And even then, it wasn’t recognized by the powers that be until early 2009. By that time, any opportunity to receive help, any hope of saving my house, my car or my dignity had long gone by the wayside.
Why wait four years and four months to share this story you might ask. Well, the truth is, I have shared it with many close to me. But today, I’m sharing it with the world as a way to finally close the door on that horrible month.
Today, I have finally returned from the land of the under/unemployed. I am officially gainfully working with benefits…something I took for granted for so many years. And while it may be in my field of marketing and communications, it’s still a long way from where I was that day four years ago in September. There is still much work to do.
I’m not complaining. It was a journey that, while devastating in so many ways, was also blessed with many clouds proudly boasting silver linings.
I’ve learned……to be humble…that you cannot place a value on friendship… that despite the fact that even if you play by the rules, life is not always fair…that what you do for a living doesn’t define who you are or what your value is to society…and finally, that my family is the single most important thing in my life.
RIP Larry Lee Chambers. I love you.