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Friday, August 03, 2007

Surreal Week

Last weekend, I still had a greyhound and I was looking forward to my last day at work. My worry for him tainted my joy at leaving my job, but I was looking forward to some "free days" in order to spend time with him, likely to be his last days.

But that's not how it worked. The cancer was end stage, and I will write more about it and what happened, but I can't do it yet. Suffice to say that Tuesdy was a terrible day, I made the hardest decision I have ever made, at the most inconvenient time...and those most impacted showed me nothing but compassion and understanding.

But my grief was so deep on Tuesday, I fell asleep in tears, I woke up and immediately felt Fire's loss...and had to go to work. I'm grateful I had to work, for it kept a certain schedule, preventing me from sitting around in a daze. I couldn't stop my tears, I begged God for help, and I went to work with tearstained cheeks and swollen red eyes, determined to do my job even though my heart was breaking.

Having to talk about it did help, even though, had I had my choice, I would have spent Wednesday locked up not speaking to anyone. But God had other plans for me, and my Manager, who knew what happened, hadn't passed on the news to my co workers. They knew my dog was sick and had cancer; they didn't know why I'd left work, so I had to tell them. There are many pet owners in my office, and they formed an unofficial support group for me on Wednesday, individually, sharing their losses, empathizing with mine, and no one commented when the tears came, no one made a fuss, and somehow, I made it over that hurdle. One co-worker isn't a fan of pets, but she is blessed with a soft heart for the suffering both human and animals, and when I told her I'd had to put my dog to sleep, I could see tears in her own eyes. I quickly made an exit...I barely had control of my emotions, and I could see that she, too, was trying to maintain at that point. So through our shared cube wall our conversation was easier when neither of us could see emotion.

By the end of the day, a sort of numbness set in, and I walked into a half-empty house, Fire's lack of presence echoing and reverberating. I never realized until then how BIG his presence was. My big red dog wasn't whining to get out of the kennel; the kennel was empty and silent. My Shepherd was even subdued, not having to compete for my affection. I had only one dog to take worry for Fire was gone, and in place of that weight was a heavier, silent weight. So I went about our regular routine...but this time, without the other half of it.

Then I turned on the TV. I wanted to take the Shepherd for a walk; her evening walks had been missed for awhile, for obvious reasons, but on Wednesday evening, the sky was overcast and darkening, so I turned on the TV. I didn't normally watch the 6:00 news because I had access to the news all day at work, via internet, and figured I didn't need to know any more. Much of the stuff I was handling was news-worthy stuff, and I didn't need to see it played out overly-much when I got home. But Wednesday night, I needed the weather.

Almost immediately, I saw the breaking news. I still had the awful numb feeling, so in a disconnected manner, thought the initial reports, without a visual, were referencing the 35W bridge over the Minnesota river that runs between Bloomington and Burnsville about 20-30 minutes south of Minneapolis.

That bridge is closer to the water, would indeed be a disaster, but of a different initially I still had a vague sense of horror, but I could not grasp what they were saying. University? 10th St? Where is that? I was racking my brain, trying to find the mapping files stored there, for I've driven the length of 35W through the Metro area at least a thousand times since I've lived up here, more than 10 years. What bridge? The information wasn't making sense.

And then they had the initial grainy images from the air...and then I understood. Yet I was still anesthetized by my grief, and now this was added to it. I couldn't move away from the TV...I couldn't do anything but watch, amazed, unbelieving, wondering if anyone I knew was involved or had friends there.

One week ago, for work, I'd driven across that bridge en route to a shop in Bloomington. For a long time, that bridge has caused me vague unrest when crossing it. Last Wednesday, especially. I had an odd feeling, a sort of "twinge" that something wasn't right. I remember loooking across towards the west, as I headed southbound on the bridge, noting the low cement rail, looking at the view...and considering the drop to the river. I remember a strange sense of nostalgia that came over me, and I shook it off and continued on. When re-crossing, northbound, the sensation caused me to again look to my right, at the construction workers, and consider their safety as all the cars rushed by on one side, the river on the other. I vaguely wondered what it would be like to work on the bridge.

I had no idea it would be the last time I crossed that bridge. I had no idea the horror that would occurr only one week later.

Thursday, my second to last day at work, we recieved emails from the top describing how claims should be handled with regard to this disaster, compassion being priority. We didn't know enough to be able to describe a process to people, but as I understand it, my co-workers weren't asked about process or what to do. Those who did call were just taking care of business and had other concerns. They knew it was an odd situation and knew that we'd all have to wait before we'd know what to do.

Today was my last day at work. I expected my last day to be joyful, but instead it was busy as I cleaned out my desk, got nothing done on what was left of my files, and basically just tried to clean some things up to make life easier for whoever takes my place. I went out with our special investigations unit, all of whom worked in my unit at one time, and they congratulated me for getting out. All of my co-workers were envious...because they want to leave, too. The truth; not many people really LIKE working in the insurance industry. They do their jobs, they do their best...but it wears on them.

So it was strange today as I was busy...but not so much. My files were reassigned by the end of the day, I shipped a couple off to the new reps, tried to have good to do's in them, apologized for what was not done, and said my goodbyes. I am leaving with both personal and professional references from management and co-workers, and I did decide, when answering the exit interview questions, to allow the company to contact me in the future with any particular openings. I do believe in leaving doors open, even if we think we want them closed. My official answer for leaving is to return to school. "Burnout" was not an option, and there were some good points to my job, and what I've learned here.

I can't believe that I'm now officially unemployed, and am so by choice. I can't believe that I'm going to orientation for Grad school tomorrow, and that in a few weeks, it begins. I can't believe that basically, I'm in a financial free-fall, I've jumped by choice...and I'm not as terrified as I should be.

Because in everything that's happened during this tragic week, and my very trying month, I see God's hand. On my Birthday, on June 20th, I commented that 33 was a bad year for Jesus. Indeed, why should I expect anything different for myself? We are called to follow Him, even unto the death.

So June passed with a preface...and July was the beginning of my year of trial. Fire started limping on July first, and I lost him on July 31st, the Tuesday of my last week of employment. August 1st brought one of the worst disaster in the history of Minnesota...and August 3rd...the end of my gainful employment.

By my choice.

And it all seems surreal. Just surreal.

But God is present, He is everywhere, He is loving, and we have to trust in Him, even when we don't understand the events surrounding us. Even in the midst of unspeakable grief and suffering, we must trust. Even when all is lost...that is only an illusion, for all is contained in God's hands, and he is especially close to those who suffer.

Please continue to pray for those involved with the bridge collapse, victims, survivors, families, and rescuers. Please pray for our government leaders, the specialists, and those who rebuild. Please pray for the Twin Cities; these are trying times.

None of us is immune to disaster; we don't know the day or the hour.

And when life gets really just means that you finally understand that you really have no control over anything, and have to give the steering wheel to God...because the only one you have is just a toy.


The Ironic Catholic said...

Adoro--not to be flip at all--

but that year was a brilliant year for Jesus. He was raised from the dead.

Something to consider in your grief.

Anonymous said...

This week's tragedy the worst disaster in the history of Minnesota?

You obviously know very little of your state's history!

Ever heard of the Great Hinckley Fire? Or how about the horrendous treatment of Native Americans in Minnesota?

I realize you've had a difficult week, but, please, let's put things in perspective.

Hidden One said...

Still praying for you, Adoro.

Adoro said...

caleb ~

Yeah, I don't know much about MN history, and at this point, quite honestly, I don't care. We actually don't know the actual scope of THIS disaster since all the bodies have not been recovered, so please give me a break and take a deep breath yourself. At least you're not one of the souls that had to hold it.

I don't consider the horrendous treatment of Native Americans in Minnesota to be a MN issue...that is a national issue. Focus, please?

Besides, I was quoting the Media, which right now is the best I can do. Sorry if that's offensive to you...the Media is usually offensive to me, too, and even though I know what they're doing right now and a lot of backgroudn stuff that is not public, well, I find it to be a welcome crutch.

So again, give me a break, and let's keep focus on actual issues and not Liberal Decmocratic pet projects, please?

IC ~ Yes, that's true, and I was being flip when I made that coment about Jesus. It was a bad year for Him...a great year for us. I don't think I can live up to the "great" part, but then again, I'm in God's hands and can't do anything of myself, as we well know.

Thank you, Hidden One.

Adoro said...

Just for anyone's FYI, the Hinkley Fire:

I've also updated my post in order to please the Caleb's of the world, and chaged the wording to "ONE OF THE WORST" disasters in MN history.

I really do hate the media, and like to see them contradicted by someone when I'm too lazy or tired or worn out to do the contradicting myself.

Thanks, Caleb.

Anonymous said...

In one of the homilies this week at mass our priest said to remember that God expects great things from the greatest among us, that means suffering as well - look at how Jesus suffered. But as you said He is always with us through the suffering. You are in my prayers.

Christina said...


I have no words of consolation, but you are in my prayers.

I've also been praying for those affected the bridge collapse.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: You know you are in my prayers.

caleb: You could have shown more tact in your comment. When someone is down, it's not an appropriate time to nit-pick. A blog is a personal medium, it's not meant to be a state historical society press release.

Anonymous said...

"I had no idea it would be the last time I crossed that bridge. I had no idea the horror that would occurr only one week later."

I'm glad you were not on the bridge when it collapsed!

None of us know what the next moment will bring--but God loves you, He knows your pain, He knows what will occur for you--in just one week from now--and the rest of your life.

I pray that He will bless you big-time.

Melody K said...

I'm praying for the victims of the bridge disaster, and their families. Also still praying for you, Adoro, to have a happy resolution to your employment situation. Please keep us in prayer, too. My husband found out a couple of weeks ago that his job will be eliminated Aug. 10. Not fun to look for work when you're 60. Fortunately our health insurance is with my job.

Anonymous said...


Yes, perhaps I could have been more tactful. But I don't believe I was "nit-picking."

No one expects a personal blog to be a "state historical society press release," but at the same time we should not expect, in such a public domain as the world wide web, to have any of our misinformed statements to go unnoticed and unchallenged.

Adoro, you are in my prayers, also. I pray that you may know God's healing presence as you deal with the loss of your beloved dog, and in grappling with the tragedy that has befallen your community.


The Ironic Catholic said...

Adoro, I wasn't saying you were flip. I was saying I hope what I was about to say didn't come across as flip.

Peace, people.

Adoro said...

Caleb ~ thank you. You're right, it is important to be accurate, but when I went back to edit I realized that what I had really meant to say, and what IS accurate is that it IS the most disastrous event in MINNEAPOLIS, but not Minnesota. So I will be editing yet again when I get around to it.

Because now I'm irritated that I didn't say what I meant and then missed that detail.

IC ~ I know you weren't saying I was flip; I am readily ADMITTING very honestly that when I said back in June that 33 was a bad year for Jesus, I WAS INDEED being flip, and I was INTENDING to be so for the sake of speaking in hyberbole. I like to do that; sometimes I realize that this is lost on people, but such is life. Sorry I wasn't more clear in my response to you. I know that never in a thousand years would you ever try to be offensive. :-)

Matthew said...

I'm so sorry to hear this news. My prayers are with you.

Concerning the bridge, I was on I35 West just one week before this tragedy happened. It is so very scary! I'll be at SJV this fall, which is still near the area.

Adoro said...

Melody ~ You and your husband are definitely in my prayers! We unemployed people have to stick together!

Seminarian Matthew ~ Welcome to the Cities, and you're in my prayers, too. You will love the campus, and the people around here. This is a great community, especially the Catholics. :-) Especially Catholic bloggers...and assume you'll continue with yours? If so, we'll add you to our "local" list.

Matthew said...

I'd love to continue to blog during my seminary years, but SJV forbids seminarians to blog. Therefore, my blog will be on hiatus until the summers. I will however continue to email people that have asked to be put on my email list.

Adoro said...

That's interesting, because there is actually a blog by local sems:

They are St. Paul sems, though, so I realize that may make the difference.

So I'll tell you what...if, when you get here, there is something you need to express and get out there, send it to me, I'll post it for you. You can email me about this, if you'd like.

If you have a prayer request, send it my way, or some other request, just let me know. I'm glad you're here (going to be, that is) and I'd like to help in whatever way I can, within, of course, the obedience you and I both must follow.

I'll be studying this semester, too, God willing, and I believe very strongly in holy friendships and supporting our seminarians and priests. Please look to those of us here in MN as part of your network, and don't hesitate to ask to pass something on, to post something, for prayers, etc.

Whether public or via email network, please consider me and my own local Catholic friends part of your own personal network. We welcome you and if they'll allow it you can guest blog here. :-)