Friday, January 11, 2013

The WTF post

The last 36 hours have been weird, as in I yelled "WTF!" and not the abbreviation at least 5 times. Yesterday was my birthday, but that wasn't the weird part. However, it is a potentially bad omen about the year to come.

I would love to write a long, rambling blog post, but my mind is too full to even coherently process the craziness. Nothing is wrong me or even my family. It's other people's chaos and tragedy. Also, it's that a lot of various themes I have talked about recently here that are unrelated to each other have dumped down around me in the space of 36 hours.

I will share one of them, the one that makes me pause and, well, just pause.

I started at the organization I work at over 12 years ago in a different department than I am now. Back then I was in my early 20s, just married, and the adopted daughter of every 50ish or older woman in the department. I was friendly with everyone but I had a "best" friend of the 7 women. The two of us had a deeper relationship. With the others, it water cooler talk and I knew their kids' names and their vacations - stuff like that - but it wasn't any deeper than that. 

I moved on to my current department 10 years ago. It's a smaller department. I am close with 2 of the 3 women - probably to a greater extent than even my "best" friend in the previous department. I'm still close with the my "best" woman friend from the previous department; it's just that I don't work with her anymore on a daily basis so that closeness gently faded a bit.

Today one of the women from the previous department comes up to my office. Not my "best" friend from that department, but she was one of the water cooler women from 10 years ago. I still run into her in the halls occasionally, but she's on a different floor and really quiet and not the type to come out unless she has to. So I only see her if I'm on her floor and run into her while she's en route to the mail room or the bathroom. When I say occasionally, I mean I have a 3-5 minute conversation with her every three months or so. I usually ask how her grandkids and her husband are doing and get an update. Her husband got moved to assisted living about a year ago. The extent of our conversations is exactly that, and she rarely asks how I'm doing. Which is fine because I'm uncomfortable with answering that vague question of how I'm doing after I haven't seen someone in months.

So when I heard her come into the area today, and then she came into my office, I thought she was stopping by to say hi while she was en route to somewhere else down the hall. As in, this would be our 3-5 minute conversation since the last one happened in October. This one's just in a different location since she's actually on my floor instead of me being on her floor.

She sits down in front of me and says, "You have been my good friend for all these years..."

Good friend = 3 minute conversation every 3 months for the past decade?
But I was pleasantly surprised that she considered me a good friend.
Yet nervous for what was to come.

"My husband is in hospice now. They don't think he's going to live for much longer."
Oh no.
"I just got diagnosed with cancer."
"They don't know if it's spread. I'm going to have a CT scan done to see if it's spread next week."
Oh my God, what a nightmare.
"I just wanted you to know."
More condolences.

She leaves my office and goes out the main door. So she came up to my floor with the express intention of telling me and then going back to her spot on another floor. She wanted to tell her good friend -- me -- that she's going through a really, really tough time.

If I had to name my top 10 friends at my work, she wouldn't be on it. I mean, I just don't see her. I like her just fine, but we really have nothing more than a passing acquaintance, particularly in the last decade.

So I sit in pause at this information. I'm shocked. I'm concerned. I want to help.

In so many ways, I'm lost. I don't know how I'm supposed to help. Go talk to her? Take her out to dinner? Write her a card? She and I have never done anything away from work together before. It's obvious she doesn't have a large social circle because, well, she came to me. I don't know if she's told her department. I could ask my good friend from my old department, but it's not my place to tell her business. My reason for even talking to her department would be so that I could know if there is a plan someone else has generated to help support her while she goes through the next few months. If there isn't a plan, then I guess I'm solo and have no idea where to even begin.

Have no idea.

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