Even though it was my choice to leave, it isn’t ‘easy’.
Some people can disengage and walk away and be done. Not me. And I’m okay with that. For a very long time I have spent more waking hours with the people I work with than with my husband, or children, or friends or mom. I’ve been extremely lucky. These people I spend so much awake time with? I like them. A lot.
These people and I work in a field where our primary goal is to make someone’s life better. How do you spend so much time with people like this and not be impacted by them? By their dedication, selflessness, generosity, tolerance, and general spirit towards humanity. I have been educated, mentored, guided, humbled, comforted, humored, tolerated, accepted, forgiven, assisted and dare I say-loved. If not loved, I’ll bet they liked me a good bit to be so very good to me.
Personally I don’t think we as humans were created to spend so much time in buildings and working away from our family. I think we live well, and were meant to live well, in ‘packs’ and community. And this place where I have worked has often fulfilled my need for community. It makes sense. We congregate and we exist together on a more regular and consistent basis than many families. And when you spend so much of your life not with your family, doesn’t it make sense that a lot of time spent with the same people, creates it’s own unique style of community?
I know. Some people go to work. Get it done. Go home. Or at least go away. I can’t say I didn’t do that on occasion. And I can’t say that work was my life. But it was, and will be somewhere else, essentially and needfully a large part of my life.
Maybe it’s the nature of the work I’ve been doing, but truthfully and gratefully, I believe it to be the people.
I know it’s the people.
When you sit together with people who are dying. Or try to help people who are watching the loss of their loved one as they disappear into dementia or Alzheimer’s. When you try to process your own thoughts and emotions as you watch someone’s character be assassinated by those heinous diseases. As you spend hours and hours lamenting the cruelty of a world that sees no value in the experience and education someone still has for us to benefit from. Or the loss of lessons we can learn from someone, even when they don’t know they are still teaching us. When you intrude on someone’s life and try desperately to make a difference but they refuse. When you then advocate for that person to retain the ability to make bad decisions. When you work daily with people trying to protect and help the vulnerable.
When you spend thousands, and thousands, of hours with people doing these things
How can you not be changed
How can you not miss
How can you not grieve
Leaving the people you have done this with.
When life takes you on a journey
And that journey takes you away from these very good and decent people
How do you not act more compassionately.
Even if the journey continues on to more challenges, more goodness, and more incredible people
How can it possibly be an easy thing to do.
It’s a journey of paradoxes.
There is sadness even in the good in life.
And leaving people who have worked side by side with you, with me, to change the world one injured or sad or lonely soul at a time, should be sad.
We grew together.
And I am grateful for the journey we’ve had together.
And I am leaving
A better person than when I arrived.