“I never see you on Facebook anymore.”
“Why don’t you ever tweet?”
“I haven’t seen you in ages! Where have you been hiding?”
I’ve heard all of those lines so many times in the last few months. In fact, it’s pretty much been the extent of my conversations for a while now, because no one really wants to stand there and listen to the real answer. The real answer leaves them speechless, not knowing the right thing to say. If there even is a right thing. I’ve learned to say I’ve been busy, or just hiding out in my house, because people want to hear that everything is fine so they can go about their business.
Some of you, though, actually care and because you’ve asked, I thought I’d just put the whole story here for you to read. It’s long, so I apologize, but there’s a lot to tell you about.
Let’s rewind back to January of 2015. I was working at an energy company in downtown OKC. I loved everything about that job. I loved what I did, I adored my coworkers, and I loved the downtown life in general. I was a contract worker, and my boss was working to create a permanent position for me. Life was good. Better than good. It was the best it has ever been.
And then, while you were busy cheering about the sudden fall in gas prices, my job disappeared. By February I was an unemployed single mom with no idea how I was going to support myself or my kids.
March quickly rolled around and I finally landed a job. I thought things were looking up. But the same week I interviewed, I found an odd lump in my left bicep. I am usually miss worst-case-scenario when it comes to lumps in the body, so I had a meltdown and went to the doctor so she could tell me it was nothing. That’s how it always goes.
But this time, it wasn’t “nothing”. They sent me for an ultrasound, then an MRI, and before I knew it, I was seeing an oncologist. I had surgery to remove it, and the pathology came back as clear cell sarcoma. That led to another surgery to remove lymph nodes to make sure it hadn’t spread. It’s an extremely rare cancer, with a not so great prognosis if it has gotten very far, but we caught mine in time. Thank God. My prognosis is great, but I’ll be on watchdog status the rest of my life.
I ended up having two surgeries and six and a half solid weeks of radiation treatments. All the while, working full-time and fighting through the fatigue. My boss at my new job was incredibly understanding, and I managed to keep up full-time hours throughout the process. I was finally bouncing back from radiation when the other shoe…or shoes…fell.
The day I had my last follow-up with my radiation doctor, my mom told me she needed me to come up to her house for something. That’s not unusual. Mom lives 4 blocks away so we are together a lot. When I walked in, however, I knew it was anything but “usual”. She didn’t speak, just pointed at the dining room chair and dialed my sister on the phone. My worst fears had come true. Five years after she kicked breast cancer’s butt, it had come back with a vengeance. I was devastated.
It was a Monday night. I was inconsolable. I normally worked from home on Wednesdays, but there was no way I could keep it together the next day so my boss let me stay home on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I got up for work as usual, happy to have the distraction. When I got there, my coworker came to my office to tell me she had heard the news and how sorry she was. I was talking to her about how I just didn’t think I could handle anymore bad news.
Oh, I should probably mention at this point that I had met the most incredible guy back in March. He stuck with me through my whole diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Our story is one for another time because it deserves its own happier post. Anyway. Just a few weeks prior to my mom’s news, he had left his job to go to work for my boss’ husband. Long story short, that was a terrible decision. Working for dishonest people often is. He let him go without warning, on the word of someone who didn’t want him there because he felt threatened.
So when I say I couldn’t handle anymore bad news, it’s because two cancer diagnoses and sudden unemployment in the span of 4 months was enough. My boss walked past my office as I was saying this to my coworker, but didn’t say a word. She proceeded to spend the entire day questioning where all the work I had done was stored on the computer, and making sure I was caught up. I was. I was a full two weeks ahead on my work, as I had been every time she had questioned me the past few weeks. At 3:30 that afternoon, she called me into her office and fired me. It’s a bit of a blur, because it completely blindsided me, but the line that sticks in my head is, “I’ve given you too much grace with all your doctor appointments, and now with your mom having cancer, I can’t take on her problems too.” She scrambled for a million other things to accuse me of, to justify this whole thing in her mind. Social media abuse, cell phone use, etc. I have records and facebook posts (or, rather, a lack thereof) that would prove all of that wrong, but it’s not worth the fight. She’s already threatened me with an attorney, because that’s what all good Christian people with integrity do to all of their former employees. No? Just her? Okay.
So she sent me packing. No notice. No severance. (No money for the wedding dress I had purchased after she told me she wanted to buy it for me.) And I knew after we had been threatened to not file for unemployment for my fiance, that I didn’t dare file for unemployment from her.
That brings us to the present. We cancelled our wedding and made a quick trip to Arkansas to get married by a JOP. It was a wonderful day full of great memories, but not what we had planned. And now, application after application, phone interviews, in-person interviews, second interviews, and everything else we can think of, we are both still job hunting, and just doing what we can to keep the lights on and food on the table. And praying. Man do we do a whole lot of praying. I’d say the frustration is mounting, but we’re both pretty maxed out. I used to say it’ll all work out, things will be okay, etc., but I’ve lost whatever shred of hope I had left. This is what rock bottom looks like. Something has to give, I’m just praying it’s soon.
I don’t want to leave this on such a negative note, as I have much to be thankful for. I am cancer free. I got out of a terrible work situation that I wouldn’t have walked away from on my own. My mom is feeling great while she undergoes treatment, and we are enjoying life to the fullest. I have the most amazing husband a girl could ever ask for. I still have a roof over my head. My kids are healthy and happy, well, as happy as a pre-teen and teenager can be at any given moment. As bleak as things seem, there are plenty of silver linings around those terribly dark clouds, and for that I am eternally grateful.