This year has been like no other for me -- and nothing as planned -- so it's fitting that New Year's Eve involved one more change.
Gene and I planned to go to Stillwater to spend time with my sister Kathy's family and had talked about going to the big Opening Night New Year's Eve celebration in Oklahoma City on our way back. But I began to wonder Friday whether, since sister Amy was in Texas, had anyone considered seeing about Mom riding to Oklahoma with her, and then coming back to Norman with us. I said we could either put Mom on the train in Norman or take her the rest of the way back to her home in Texas on Sunday. That plan was agreed to, so that's what we're doing. And I am grateful.
Last year, Gene and I spent a freezing New Year's Eve at Opening Night. It was fun as Gene and I were in a renewed phase of enjoying going out and doing things rather than stay in the comfort of home. It was a Thursday, and we had taken advantage of opportunities related to my job that provided access to free parking as well as free admission and food. Even in our mid-to-late 50s, we seemed young and healthy and carefree!
The new year started with the promise of health and healthy approaches to life and love. We were talking about making more specific goals for the year and beyond and how to achieve them.
But the following Thursday, I was in the emergency room, and the next day -- one week after New Year's Day -- I was in pre-op, consulting with a surgeon before an emergency procedure that would remove about a foot of my colon and leave me with a colostomy for what turned out to be more than three months.
None of that was among our goals or plans. Much of it was painful and challenging, but by the grace of God and with the support of family, friends and an amazing workplace, we made it through, aware of and grateful for blessings.
The time off from work during surgery as well as time spent working from home during my recovery made Gene and I long for me to not have to go to the office every day. We talked some about an exit strategy, but the chances of me actually quitting my job never seemed great. We kidded about whether I would eventually quit, retire or get laid off. But that's as far as it went.
Even when I was among the small group of workers called into a meeting shortly before a quickly called companywide meeting June 8, it didn't immediately register with me that this meant I was being laid off. But I soon did understand. I also quickly learned this was like no other layoff in my 34 years with the company. In all the other cases I was aware of, people were escorted out of the building upon learning their fate. This time, we were told they needed us to work until at least October to help with the transition to outsourcing our jobs. For me, this was an answer to prayer. My greatest anxiety about the possibility of being laid off had been how to just leave without getting to wrap things up and say good-bye. With at least four months to prepare, I felt pretty sure I could make this transition more smoothly. And I did.
The last day of work was Oct. 14, and the transition is definitely still in progress. I didn't plan to look for a job before the end of the year, but I had other goals. High on the list was accompanying my husband on his work trips. I also wanted to get some medical issues addressed and start some major housecleaning. And I wanted to start rebuilding some relationships I had let languish. I probably accomplished less than half of my goals.
I'm surprised this does not seem depressing to me as I write this on New Year's Eve, but it does not. I thank God and my husband for that.
I don't regret this past year, nor do I wish to shut the door on it. I can look back and learn, but mostly I will look forward and build on a foundation of faith.
"Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."
-- Philippians 3:12-14