The bad thing about arranging to take Family Medical Leave is that my co-workers had to know about why I wasn’t going to be around. I didn’t have to say anything to everyone myself; a few people knew and the news spread. I can’t be mad about that, and I’m not mad about it. People were naturally excited and happy for us, and as far as we knew on Thursday, the placement was a definite go.
Now that it’s the first week of classes and we’re back to work, people are noticing I’m not gone. People are asking why I’m here. I just say, “I had a reason to take the leave, and then I didn’t.” That is the truth. I had a reason and then I didn’t. Those words mask the heartache and heartbreak, though. I just told a co-worker the reason why it didn’t happen – from out of left field, a family member of the child’s stepped up and was awarded the placement. Saying those words to her almost made me lose my composure. I felt my knees buckle like they did at the beach Sunday. Only this time I wasn’t saying goodbye to Mariah. I was mourning Mariah.
These workplace landmines are pocketknives stabbing me in the heart. I want to turn my office lights off and lay on the floor in darkness. I’m still marveling at how much love I felt for this child I didn’t know and hadn’t met. She changed my life without ever having entered it physically.
I am not the same person I was a week ago.