A year or so ago a co-worker put in her two-weeks notice. I didn’t know about it until her last day with the company. I tend to keep to myself at work. I put off stopping by her office until late in the afternoon, right before I had to leave to get Zachary off of the bus. She wasn’t there.
Whew, dodged that bullet! Goodbyes tend to be awkward for me, with hollow reassurances of “let’s keep in touch”, the weird smile, and the decision to hug or shake hands. Therefore, I loathe them. I did want to say goodbye, but email is my preferred method of saying “sayonara”!! So, I happily headed back down the hall to my computer, to type a few lines of well wishes before heading out to pick up Zachary.
The next day I came in to work and broke productivity protocol by checking my email before doing anything else. To my surprise, she had responded to my email.
Before going any further, I’d like to mention that my co-worker (let’s call her Lucy) has a special needs son very close in age to my own son, Zachary. Lucy and I occasionally chatted about our sons, nothing too in depth, about some of the experiences we have as mothers to these boys.
Back to the email response from Lucy.
I’m going to paraphrase here. I didn’t save the email, although I wish I had. Lucy let me know that she enjoyed working with me. She found that my positive attitude helped her to get through the day sometimes. She describes thinking to herself, “If AnnMarie can do it, I can do.” I read it, and I cried.
I did not realize someone might be able to take strength from me.
Because being a mother to a special needs child overcomes me most days. The strength to get out of bed each morning and care for his basic needs, along with constantly advocating for him, eludes me much of the time. But I’m his mother and so I put one foot in front of the other and I do it.
And I smile.
I smile mostly because I’ve learned over the years that people don’t handle it very well when I DON’T smile. Friends fade away and family draws back when you are a hot mess most of the time. People don’t know what to say or do (9 Ways You can Help a Special Needs Parent). So I suck up the exhaustion and the heartache until I get home.
So Lucy’s email caught me completely off guard.
My takeaway from this experience? Even when you feel as if you are way down deep in that pit of despair, you have a light inside of you. This little light is burning inside of you and someone can see it and take strength from it. Then you can take strength from them and together you can climb out of the pit (tips on self-care).
This little light of mine. I didn’t think I had it, but I do and I’d like to share it with you.