If yesterday hadn’t happened, I’d be sitting down tonight to write about all the wonderful things that have happened in my life lately, all the positive news I’ve received and new information I’ve learned.
If yesterday hadn’t happened, I’d be excitedly sharing the recently confirmed date of my surgery – March 8th – exactly one week from today. I’d tell you that I learned a little bit of information about my recipient – that she is a 56-year-old woman from New Jersey, just like my mom, which makes this whole thing hit a bit closer to home. I’d write all about the ‘cluster’ that I’ve set off, the four surgeries including mine that will all occur next Tuesday, saving two lives in the process; how several more ‘clusters’ will occur throughout the chain I’ve started to save a still undetermined, but potentially infinite, number of lives, spanning months, even years.
If yesterday hadn’t happened, I’d gush about the exciting news that I was contacted by Marina Khidekel, articles editor at Glamour magazine, and Lexi Petronis, health blogger on Glamour.com, who reached out to me to conduct an interview before, and possibly after, my surgery to talk about my blog and, more importantly, the concept of living donor chains. I’d express how incredibly grateful I am to these two women for caring about my story and my blog, and for taking the time to shed light on such an amazing, but little-known cause. I’d also smile as I typed out the link for you to read this wonderful piece by Lexi at http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/blogs/vitamin-g/2011/03/i-started-a-kidney-donation-ch.html.
But yesterday did happen. And yesterday rocked my world as I knew it. Yesterday, I was fired.
Though I’m still in shock and cannot yet entirely grasp what happened, I do know that the chain of events that transpired leading up to the termination of my employment did so because of my need for time off to go through with, and recover from, this kidney transplant surgery. Although, to my coworkers’ and one of my bosses’ testimonials, I had kept my entire office up to date along every step of this journey (beginning last March) and had, on several occasions, discussed and agreed upon the logistical details with my bosses months ahead of time, all of a sudden as the surgery date approached, one of my superiors decided that he felt my week-long absence for the surgery would pose a problem in the office. Just 8 days before my scheduled surgery, my boss sat me down and told me that despite my aptitude, despite my very recent promotion to Editorial Lead, and despite my exceptional feedback from coworkers and clients, this relationship was ‘no longer working out.’ Shock and confusion, a deep sense of betrayal, and a wave of panic flooded over me as I walked back to my desk, packed my belongings and, humiliated, left the midtown Manhattan office for the very last time. I cried the entire way home and didn’t stop until the wee hours of the morning.
I still don’t understand what happened yesterday. I can confidently say that in all my years of employment, in every job I’ve ever held, I’ve never had a boss who wasn’t thrilled with my work, my work ethic, and my passion for, and dedication to, my job. But I’ve learned that life isn’t fair; that sometimes even your best isn’t good enough for some people; that job security is a great idea, but a lousy thing to depend on; that being a good person doesn’t mean only good things will happen to you; and that sometimes even things done with the best intentions will go misunderstood by some.
As upset as I was, and still am, I know I will be ok. I know I’ll find another job, that my career will continue to blossom, and that I’ll end up in a place where my work and my values are respected and appreciated. I’m not the first, nor the last, person to be fired from their job – I’ve been through worse in my life and am better for it. And though my whole world was changed in the blink of an eye yesterday, one thing remained as unshakable as ever – my desire to go through with this surgery.
While I know things will be rough – financially, emotionally, mentally – until I find a new job, I’m confident that this, too, is only a temporary setback in my journey. And I will not let this deter me from doing what makes me happy, from what I feel is right. Because at the end of the day, no matter how devastating the loss of a job can be, it pales in comparison to what thousands are going through every day as they wait for the gift of life. I won’t lie and say that at no point did I feel bad for myself or that I was being targeted – I did. I won’t say that I never thought of myself and only myself over the last 24 hours – I did that too. And I won’t tell you that I wasn’t devastated, bewildered, and utterly indignant – I was. I still am. But my situation will improve. My life will get back on track. I have the power to change things. Dialysis patients do not. They cannot simply will themselves to health. They cannot wish their kidney function back to normal. They cannot send out applications and emails, set up interviews, and pound the pavement for a new kidney. Yet it is those very same people – those who are the most powerless over their situation – who have shown the most grace, the most bravery and determination, the most resilience. If they can courageously rise up after being so brutally knocked down, I can certainly recover from a small stumble. And I can lend them a hand on my way back up.
And in the meantime… if anyone needs a writer, editor, or project manager, you know where to look.
It helps, I think, to consider ourselves on a very long journey: the main thing is to keep the faith, to endure, to help each other when we stumble or tire, to weep and press on. [Mary Richards]