When I first started my job, my office was a sanctuary. I couldn’t believe how professional I felt to have such a beautiful office that I could call my own and decorate however I wanted. I held meetings in there, feeling like I was a fraud. Does someone know they hired this little nine-year-old girl by accident?! I sent pictures to my parents feeling so proud of my accomplishments.
Returning to my office three months after my dad passed away, I hated every square inch of that room. I couldn’t believe I had to go back into this lifeless, stale room like everything was normal. Nothing was normal.
It was in that office that I got a call from my Aunt Carol that will reverberate through my brain until the day I die. “Honey, it’s bad. It’s a heart attack. They’re saying there are multiple blockages. You need to get up here.”
I think about that moment often. I had no idea what kind of tsunami was about to decimate my world. I was upset that morning because I had to be at work early and also had an event that would keep me out late. You idiot, the universe said to me. You thought that was a bad day? Wait til you see what’s coming.
My “bad days” went from early morning meetings, to eyes swollen shut every morning from crying. From navigating a demanding media request, to navigating my father’s entire estate. From being so tired I wanted to fall asleep on the floor of my office, to being scooped off the floor of my bathroom by the paramedics because I was paralyzed with anxiety.
Being back in that room would give me flashbacks of the moment I got the call. My chest would get tight and I would struggle to breath. I’d stand up and walk in tiny circles around the room, or most times I’d escape to a back hallway in the suite among the old marketing materials and manila file folders. I’d fold myself up, too, and cry.
For months, any personal call that I received while in my office surely meant that someone else was dying. I jumped out of my skin every time. In March, it was real. My grandmother was at the end. Once again, after a short leave for her funeral, I returned to an office riddled with memories, tears and panic attacks.
Another six months passed by when I caught wind that we were short on office space. I volunteered myself (and a coworker, God bless her heart) to move offices. Getting the hell away from that office would do wonders for me, I knew it.
And I was right. I moved into a new office space in my suite at the beginning of 2019. I no longer feel like the cords of the electronics will strangle me at any moment. I am more productive and I am more positive. I proved to myself that I can put the trauma I experienced in that office behind me. Another step in living a life with loss.
I sent pictures to my mom, wishing I could send them to my dad, too. But I know he sees it, and some days I know he’s right there with me.