Tag Archives: loss

Workplace Landmines

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.

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We Lost Her Before We Met Her

On Wednesday, we received the call we’ve been longing for:  Our county’s Department of Human Services had a child for us, a 21-month old girl named Mariah.  We talked it over and agreed to it.  My partner sent our licensing worker an email saying that yes, we would love to take Mariah into our home.  We celebrated by going out to dinner for what we thought would be the last time in a while.  Then, we picked up some Eucerin lotion, diapers and some other things for her, including a book about toddler behavior and what to expect.

On Thursday, we cleaned and spit-polished the house, and made sure her room was ready.  We received an email from our worker stating we’d have more information after her meeting with Child Protective Service workers and others.  I quickly arranged a leave of absence from work.  When we didn’t hear anything, we decided to go to lunch, very excited about becoming a parents finally.  In the middle of lunch, our worker called and said something unexpected happened and that she’d be at our house to conduct a home study.

We went from being excited to deflated.  Come to find out two family members stepped up and needed to be assessed, and that if those family members didn’t pan out, we’d still have a chance at Mariah.  We sat at the table with our worker during the home study completely numb and shocked.  A high chair sat to our worker’s right.  Dolls and stuffed animals sat on the couch, awaiting Mariah to play with them.  She had to have seen, she had to have known how we were feeling.  She didn’t look through the house, and she didn’t acknowledge our emotions.  After she left, we put things away.  I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t.  I was too angry and hurt by the wringer we’d just been through.

I emailed by supervisor to let him know a glitch happened and I’d know more Friday morning.  Friday morning came and my partner received a voicemail saying that Mariah would be placed with a family member.  She called it a courtesy call.  Courtesy is such a gentle word for what was information that ripped our hearts apart worse than before.  Dan came home early and napped.  I sat feeling very numb and angry, and emailed my supervisor to say there was no longer a reason to find new instructors to teach my Fall classes.  He called but I didn’t answer the phone.  I couldn’t hear words of condolence, I just couldn’t, even though I appreciated them.

Why didn’t our worker know that family members might be available before giving us the call we wanted?  Why were we put through this hell?  Why did no one at DHS acknowledge our feelings and how hard it had to be?

Today, we went to the state park on Saginaw Bay.  We looked out at the wind-whipped white caps and after  Dan had taken pictures and wandered off, I leaned against the railing and told Mariah that I hope she’s safe and loved where she’s at now, and that I hope she knows there are two people who loved her immediately and without question, without having actually met her.  “Namaste, Mariah,” I said.  “I love you.”

My knees buckled.  Some of the tightly wound emotions holding me up the last two days left me, were carried along by the wind up into the sky with my words.

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