Monday, October 6, 2008

Gone But Not Forgotten

For two weeks now I've been trying to think of a witty way of saying that I resigned from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Nothing comes so I'll just have to be straight about it.

For months now I've felt an ever-so-insistent nudging from Spirit. The message was, "Hey! We've got other things for you to do. But you have to leave the SCCA." Unthinkable! I loved my job and had always seen myself working there well into my eighties at which point I would be taking a cab to and from The Seattle Home for Really Old Chaplains.

I knew that to ignore the urging of the Spirit was at my own peril, nevertheless, ignore it I did. But the Divine always wins. I have the Happy Problem of having many speaking engagements all over the country. In the past, I used Leave Without Pay to do this. But there is a new rule at the SCCA that doesn't allow that, so I found myself using all my vacation time to give talks until I got to a point in September where my boss said, "I can't approve this trip because you have no more vacation hours."

How could I not go to Dana Farber and Massachusetts General? My boss and I discussed the possibilities: keep my job by changing my status to per diem chaplain. I would lose all my benefits, but it would give me the flexibility to travel.

So I could do that or I could actually . . . resign. My boss and I agreed to think about it over the weekend.

All day Saturday I tried on the decision of staying on and somehow working out all this travel. I felt tired and anxious.

When I woke up on Sunday I said to myself, "Now I will try on the decision of resigning from the clinic." I instantly felt as if I lost twenty pounds. I felt a heaviness leaving me. I heard the angels singing in their firmament,"What took her so lo-o-o-ong? We nearly had to kill her-r-r-r!"

Which was true because for the past two months I hadn't been sleeping and my heart would pound at night as I thought of all the things I had to do and then I was cursed with a Job-like gastrointestinal problem. Let me just say that if bathrooms were bars, I'd be considered an alcoholic because I was in one five times an hour.

So I resigned and cried my way through the week, including a very nice Good-Bye Tea that my boss arranged. I hated leaving the staff, my patients and especially my colleague Mia because we had Big Plans to redecorate that horrid little office we share. Even more important was that I was so looking forward to working with her and so we sat and just wept for a good hour in our office with the lights low so that it felt like a funeral parlor but without a dead body present. I realized that just because it was absolutely the right decision didn't mean it was not going to be hard as hell.

Then my sister arrived and we flew off to Boston. I did a reading and three talks and we walked the Freedom Trail and saw Paul Revere's grave and the Old South Church. But most magnificent of all was the historic Filene's Basement at which I found three beautiful bow ties for Wes which were marked down to $19.00. From $50.00!

I still can't believe I resigned as it hasn't felt like I'm not working because I returned from Boston and gave two more talks and have three more to go before the end of the month.

But here's the thing: just because I resign my job, doesn't mean I resign from people's lives. So I'm still in touch with many patients. More about that later.

And no, I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do next . . .