It Feels Like Grief

“Jobs are merely leased, and leases get called.

But it feels like grief.”

— From my Instagram feed

She messaged me at work early Monday:

I am very likely getting fired today. I want you to know it was a true pleasure working with you, and thank you for all your support through the years.

She did get fired, later that day, although with some kind of financial package to aid with transition.

I heard from her later that night, having reached out to her through Facebook. She said she thought this meant she had a better future ahead of her somewhere else.

I told her I would miss her.

She messaged me at work the next morning, asking if I would help her replacement, a guy she had only recently hired. I said “of course.”

I first met her eight years ago. We had an immediate affinity. She changed jobs several times, all promotions. I changed jobs once and bosses multiple times. During all that time, we either worked together or stayed in touch.

Her last promotion had been to a very high position. One with a lot of responsibility and a lot of employees. One where a lot could go wrong.

It did.

She has a family, a husband and three kids. She has been the primary earner.

She just last month became a U.S. citizen. She’s been in this country since the mid 00’s.

As of this March, I will have worked for the same company for twenty-four years. I have seen a lot of people come and go. Some few of those who left did so involuntarily. I have come very close to being fired myself on two occasions.

The longer you live, the more grief you accumulate. It makes me rethink how wonderfully brave the old people of my youth were, although I was uncognizant of it at the time.

The respiration of life involves the inhalation of hope and the exhalation of grief, and like breathing, we do both automatically.

I wake up worrying about various issues to do with this company. Those are not concerns for her anymore.

Later, I walk up to a door and scan a badge. The door opens. She can’t do that anymore.

I walk to a desk and see pictures of my wife, my kids, and my grandkids. Her desk now lies empty.

My friend will be fine. She’s smart, she’s capable, and she’s no longer tied to this particular corporate millstone. I’m happy that she is finally free.

But it feels like grief.

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