Monday, April 24, 2006


I probably should've known the day was about to take a sinister turn when I heard Mike's voice on the phone.

"This is the second hardest thing I've ever had to do."

I silently wondered what the first hardest thing was.

"What's up?" I asked, maybe a little out of breath. I had been stripping beds in preparation for Amber's arrival later that afternoon.

"You know how we lost that contract yesterday." I had heard but knew little about it-- it had been before my brief time with the company.

"Christina, they've decided to let you go." I had a feeling the sheets would stay in the washer until we needed them to be on the beds.

I remembered the definition of reeling. My body felt lightheaded-- dizzy. Confused. I asked the standard why's and how's. I looked at the calendar on the desk in my "home office." Friday, April 21st. Exactly one month before my ruthlessly impending nuptials.

Mike was nothing but helpful, gracious. Looking out for me. Calling with possible consulting deals.

I dried my tears (with a towel), updated my resume and drafted an email to HR. The HR rep called me back (clearly ignoring my preferred method of communication). She used the words "departure" and "pay in lieu of notice."

"Can you please explain the difference between severance and pay in lieu of notice?"

Judging by her tone of voice, in her opinion, it was a big difference. "Severance," she said tersely, "asks you to give something up in exchange for something else." Confused, because I thought that was the definition of "quid pro quo," and irritated, because her southern lilt and calmness were unnerving, I put the phone on speaker and held it from my face while I groaned. "With pay in lieu of notice, we're not asking you to give up anything!" That was all I could take. I got off the phone as quickly as possible.

Amber arrived with her burgeoning belly. Shortly after that, a basket of daisies arrived with an I Love You balloon and a hand-written card that began, "Pookie." They were The Boy's words, but not in his handwriting. We laughed and Amber and her fetus took me to Coldstone after a couple of moping hours on the couch. Then we got our toes done and walked home in the rain.

The Boy greeted us at the door in his "I'm a Catch" shirt-- the one I got him last time he saved me. We sat on the couch after a long, tight hug. I hid my face in his shirt.

"I sent a prayer request out to the church," The Boy announced, referring to the church-wide emails that often bombard our inboxes. Amber burst out laughing. So hard she cried and had to leave the room. I wondered if he had considered the possibility of my embarrassment. "I ran it by your dad!" He exclaimed. "I thought I did the right thing!" And he probably did. But I still had visions of my Dad confronting Mr. O'Brien, the man who would become one of my favorite teachers, on junior year back-to-school night. He told O'Brien I was intimidated of him. O'Brien made a scene in front of the whole class the next day. When I confronted Dad, he did not apologize.

I explained this to The Boy. "In the future, if you ever have a question that involves potential embarrassment, do not consult him! He has no sensor for that kind of thing." The conversation spanned the weekend.

We faced our previously scheduled shower, reminding ourselves that our wedding is more than a series of dollar signs, even if it doesn't feel like it. For better or for worse started early. In the car, we started facing forward, together.

Today, my first official "business day" of unemployment, I took care of all the supposed-to's. Breakfast. Cleaning the kitchen. Taking care of the dog. Checking my email. Putting on my workout clothes. Then I did my first real act of unemployment. I went back to bed.

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