In my last post I told you about how I was considering two different full time jobs. That turn of events was a big deal because I’ve been freelancing and working from home for several years, and the whole office job thing, being away from the kids after school, was big and scary in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.
I compared the jobs to each other using many different criteria. I tortured my husband with my back-and-forth. I called my mother and cried on the phone. I closed my eyes and imagined my life in this job…and then in that job. I had about two days to make a very big decision. On the morning I was meant to call and accept or reject an offer, I was driving home from dropping off the middle schooler and I said out loud “I need a sign!”
And then it hit me: I already got my sign.
By the time I interviewed for this job, I had been “on the market” for several months, so I was comfortable (if a bit bored) talking about myself. The position was at the school district, where people knew me and I knew people. I’m a big fan of the district so it was a good fit.
This interview was with a panel of six people, arranged opposite me at a conference room table. It seemed intimidating but I looked at each face, registering them, cataloguing whether I knew them or not. One woman looked familiar, and she was staring at me intently with a little smile on her face. Maybe she was trying to send me a message, I wonder now. I asked her, “Have we worked together before?”
“I’m Lisa’s cousin,” she said.
I sucked in my breath and felt chills run up and down my body. Tears sprang to my eyes. I don’t remember what I said, but I knew I had to suck it up and move on, to conduct myself professionally. The woman apologized for bringing up a sad memory, but I said “No, thank you, it’s a wonderful thing.”
Because it was.
Lisa died five years ago today. Suddenly, unexpectedly, at the height of physical fitness and poised to take on the world. Five years is a very long time. Enough that my children barely remember her, enough that she missed world events we take for granted, enough that maybe you, reading here, don’t recall the pain and loss I have poured out on this site.
Two years ago I started writing a novel inspired by my friend, or more accurately, by a vision I had when I was grieving her. One year ago I began revising it. This year, I continue. I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month – this mass movement gives me an energy boost, and I am indeed committed to finishing the story. It’s not really about Lisa, but it’s filled with my love for her, and my missing her. Maybe people will recognize her ebullient spirit in the character. Maybe not. But it will be enough for me to complete what I started.
Writing a novel is no joke, especially now that I have a full time, out of the home job. In fact, I sat down to work on the manuscript last night, but I found myself looking through photos and old blog posts.* I didn’t cry until I got to the pictures of Lisa with my son Kyle, her godson. It’s not just me who is missing out on having Lisa in my life. It’s my kids, too.
On that morning over a month ago, driving on the 101, I remembered my sign. Tears welled up in my eyes again, and I felt a sense of peace. When I got home I called the school district and accepted the offer. I withdrew from consideration for the other opportunity. And now Lisa’s cousin, Carolyn, is the coworker who sits right next to me, who took me around and introduced me to everyone, and even showed me where to get hot lunch at the middle school next door. You know, the important things.
With Carolyn this Halloween. In the office. Obvs.
I suppose it could be a coincidence. I suppose.
*I’ve mentioned Lisa many times here, before and after her death, but it’s her OWN blogs that I cherish. I helped her set up her original site where she chronicled her medical issues, and then she branched out to a general personal site. Now that she is gone, these blogs are treasures. Dip into one of them for bit, and you can almost hear her…