here. now.

March 25, 2021

I was let go this week. “We want you to know that this has nothing to do with you as a person. You are such a kind person. But we just think that you are not the right fit for this busy practice. We need someone who is faster, who can keep up with the pace of all the doctors here, and who can multitask with the needs we have. Do you have any questions?”

I stammered through my tears. “Um. I guess I just . . . I don’t know. I, well, I wonder if I can say goodbye to Dr. M?”

I’d been called away from her, via text on the app we use for work communication, to go to the supervisor’s office. Everything was in-the-middle—my patient vitals, notes about what to follow-up on, paperwork to be scanned . . . a few minutes earlier I’d commented to the nurse whose station was next to mine, that I’d had a “first”—an insurance claim I’d submitted had been approved. I was able to call the patient and tell her that she had coverage for her medication. “I did something right,” I commented. She chuckled and said, “How long have you been her again? 3 weeks, right? Give yourself some grace!” I smile back at her, from underneath my mask. “Thank you,” I said. I realize later that in the flurry of this job time has passed way faster than I was aware of in any given moment -I’d actually already been there for over a month now!

Ironically, a few hours after that, I was to return to tell her, though tears, that I was leaving. Not fast enough . . . not good enough.

I saw the petite frame of Dr. M, as she dashed towards the next patient waiting in the room. Seeing me out of the corner of her eye, she stopped, veered towards me, reaching for the blue paper I still held in my hand, waiting to give it to her. “Oh yes,” she said, “I need this, don’t I?” she shook her head at her forgetfulness, and took the paper from me, turning towards the room again and waving her arm for me to follow.

“Wait, Dr. M. No-I’m not coming with you.” She turned. “I’m leaving now. They let me go. I’m too slow . . .” I started to cry again.

She came towards me. “Sweet Anna,” she said, hugging me. “You know I was let go from my other hospital, 4 months ago, for not being fast enough—for not doing enough surgeries.” With her blue eyes peering closely into mine, she hugged me again. “You’ll find the right place. I know you will.”

Then she was gone, rushing back to attend to the waiting patient.

I left in a daze, blinking at the light of day that I’d grown accustomed to missing. So this is it. 

That night I attended a book club that some friends invited me to. It was our first meeting, and we had read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. During the discussion, one friend mentioned the photos accompanying the book. I nearly interrupted her, excited to remember my own reaction to one of those photos. “She looks like me!” I thought, peering more closely at the black-and-white photo of a traveling librarian seated at the bedside of a hospital patient, book in hand. And she really did resemble me, as odd as it seems to say such a thing about oneself. With her expressive features and large nose, in profile, she looked like she could have been my great grandmother. Maybe she was, considering the unknown element of my family’s Appalachian roots . . .

In the days since then, still raw in the newness, I’ve tried to keep to routines to stay functional. I wonder if I should pause and reflect for a while … but am more inclined to try to get back on the horse and try to find another – better – fit. The fear, though (the inner voice that whispers “failure”) is that I’m just not good enough for anything; a temptation to wonder if I just faked it through the “real world” till now, and am old enough now that I just can’t cut it.

Clearly, this post is not a happy one. My perspective will no doubt change as time passes. And knowing that, I questioned whether or not to share this at all. I will probably continue to question it after hitting “publish.” So be it.

My first tulip bloomed this week. Yesterday I snapped this photo while on the phone with my sister, bragging about how warm and sunny it was (her weather at the time being significantly colder). At the time I was feeling relatively at peace. Today storms are raging and the sky is dark. My emotions are tempted to mirror that sky. I am tempted to brush it off, to argue it away, and to numb myself, in some form or fashion, from the pain. But instead, I choose to try to sit with that pain and ride it out.

So be it.

One Response to “here. now.”

  1. Kathy Collard Miller said

    Thank you for sharing, Anna, even in this transition time. I admire and respect you. Hugs and prayers for comfort in this loss.

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