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Wrenching Decisions

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My co-worker lay in a hospital bed, probably dying. He collapsed in a heap the other day while at his desk. I’ve known and worked with this kind, gentle man for ten years, and his sense of humor was wry and hilarious. He always lifted my spirit and made a bad day tolerable. 

He has so many medical problems it could fill a notebook. He took the bullet and came bouncing back every single time. You’d see him gone for months or weeks at a time than he’d be back at it. I asked him why he didn’t go on disability because he certainly would qualify but that man worked through his personal physical HELL to get his daughters through college. He was unselfish to a fault.



I wonder, as I go through my own workdays in pain, cranky and weak, remarking “Is that all there is?” Is working a means to an end or an end to a life? My sister says I should just work until I, too collapse, perhaps in a rest area on I-81 (Will it be northbound or southbound? Will the toilets be clean?) and strangers will comment on my lack of taste in underpants as I lay drooling and thrashing about on the cold tile floor.

According to the doctor I’m in a ‘depression’. As much as I’d like to think it’s because my newly painted nails broke, or the car didn’t start two days in a row, it’s more then that. Life decisions. Do I retire before the big bathroom fiasco or try and make a difference in the life of a poor person? Should I live a life of pumping numbers on an Excel spreadsheet and shake with fear when they don’t meet expectations or let everything material go to do God’s work and my life dream? It’s feast or famine, no in between.

Ostensibly, I could live on disability income. I could sit at home, popping pills, going to therapy and weaving baskets, but there’s more to life’s meaning then that. Looking back, 15-16 years ago I lived in a one bedroom apartment, sleeping on the floor, penniless but never happier. Carving a great life financially in the years to come, having my youngest son in my life every weekend, life was good, plentiful in grace and freedom.

I’ve not been welcomed in this community, not now or ever. It’s small and nosy and critical if you make even one mistake. They remember every bad decision you make and forgiveness is as rare as a mullet in Manhattan. No one ever forgets anything. Just when you think you’ve finally done something worthwhile, they find a crumb of evidence you didn’t meet their criteria to be a friend worthy of crushing their spent cigarette. Who wants this? Who needs to feel their life under a microscope to be picked apart like so many greedy vultures at a train wreck? Time to move on, maybe.

On the flip side, I’ve been blessed with fabulous friends, and if you can read this note on Facebook, you are one of them. I love and cherish the people that were there encouraging me during my dark days of this sickness, I despise those that encourage barroom banter around lies and drama crafted for their enjoyment.

Here I am. Do I stay working or listen to my doctor’s advice to stop working? Do I let the stress of work truncate my days, my hours, my minutes..or move forward with the possibility I may be the woman begging for cash outside the Mission, drunk and dirty? There is one wonderful bright ray of hope in all of this mental mayhem, and it is the vision of humanitarianism. Stay tuned, or…….Perhaps I should ask those that seem to know it all?  

Copyright 2009 Wendy Ferguson

Last modified on 26 January 2012

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