Thursday, January 20, 2011

Take care of yourself

I'm not sure how to start this post. Sad news is difficult to share...

This past Tuesday morning, after for missing for 1 week, police found Bee's body not too awfully far from her car, under the snow.

Apparently Bee's car was found behind a shed that was on the lot of a cemetery that was on a rural road outside of a small town. There are no apparent links as to why she would be at that cemetery. Now there is an autopsy being done on her body to see how she died.

No one will ever truly know why Bee called in sick to work without telling her family and then went off for a drive to a cemetery. However there will be many theories.

Only Bee and God know.

I wonder if she woke up that day numb from a previously bad day at work (so I've been told) feeling helpless to the overall solution. Decided to take her sadness privately with her to grieve any feelings of hopefulness that could exist, and went to think. Perhaps she just wanted to consider the thoughts of a hope filled life and thought of her spirituality and the promises that death with salvation hold (in her faith). Perhaps she just needed to spend some time alone with those promises.

I wonder if, while on a walk and thinking, she was overcome with emotion and was finally able to release the sadness. As she let go of the pent up emotions more were found. Maybe she continued to walk and walk hoping that a little more time and a bit more release would bring healing and maybe hope.

Is it then she lost track of time? Is it then she forgot about the in climate weather? Is it then she lost sight of where she was and couldn't find her way out of the brush?

Again, this is only a guess. A wondering at best.

It's amazing how finding her body can bring a sense of relief, a sense of peace (in some small way). While at the same time the confirmation of what people had really hoped wasn't true had indeed happened can be like a punch in the gut.

I sit here now trying to figure it out. Trying to understand why I feel particularly connected to her sadness, to her story (aside from the personal relational connection).

Maybe it's because I've felt that feeling hopelessness before. When I wondered if anyone would notice if I was gone. I remember the years I worked at the church how much I loved my job and yet was so distressed by it at the same time.

I loved the kids. They were a complete joy (most of the time). I felt privileged to know them in the way that I did. I loved hearing their take on the world. I loved making them feel heard and enjoyed.

One little girl told me after kids club one day 'Eva, you know EVERYTHING'. This gave me such a laugh but warmed my heart at the same time. They believed everything you told them, trusted you and admired you, just for who you were.

One day shortly after I'd announced that my time as their youth worker was coming to an end, Pastor D. and Bee's youngest daughter said: 'My mom said you are the best youth worker that we'll ever have because you really care about us and love God.' When I heard that that day, I knew I'd done my job well as this was not only coming from a parent of one of 'my kids' but from a woman who'd grown up in 'the ministry' as a pastor's kid and seen her share of 'paid staff'.

The down side to the job was going at it alone. Not having help or people that understood what I was doing. People saw you once a week and assumed that's all the work you put into it. They weren't around for the noon hour lunched I shared with different teens. Or when those teen stood me up. They had no idea how much energy was put into praying that the kid that just went down the tobogganing hill wouldn't crash into the tree. Or that so and so wouldn't sleep with her boyfriend at the ripe age of 14. They were there when all of my energy went into 'keeping it together' when everything was falling apart.

I remember the summer I'd realized I needed to take a month off. I'd realized I was burnt out. I went to some one on some committee who said they'd back me and in the end I had to face a mom of one of the kids in my group who was an elder at the church. She made sure I only got my two weeks of vacation and not a cent more. She also made it clear to me that there was no reason I should ever feel justified in taking that month off (even though I never took ANYTIME off at all in my time there).

I knew the pressures of working for a church at the level of a half time staff, but no doubt that wasn't as crucial as being the Pastor's wife who had better participate in the right amount of activities, dress appropriately at all times, parent her children to perfection and have the right attitude always on display.

Now I am not saying it was the pressures of church life that saddened Bee, I could never know that. Only that they are issues that she would've had to carry with her along with a job in the human services field. One that so often sucks that life out of you, even when you know it where you are meant to be.

I guess I just want to say that IF Bee was depressed or sad, I understand. If she wanted to leave this situation (unintentionally or not), I understand. If she just couldn't take the pressures anymore, I understand.

If you are wondering if I'm suicidal or depressed right now, don't worry I'm not.

I am deeply and profoundly moved by Bee's loss and especially the situation surrounding it. I've mentioned before feeling too deeply sometimes. Well, this is a time it is happening.

I don't get this way over everyone that dies. In fact some times I take on my mother's 'matter of fact' attitude about it. 'Yeah, they were 84, get over it, it was time for them to go.' And that's the end of it.

However in times where I can experience the process of their loss (if it is drawn out or unexpected) I feel deeply. I am thankful I'm not like this with every loss or I'd be in my bed all day. Sometimes empathy is a buggar.

I heard confirmation of Bee's death soon after it was posted on line. At first I felt nothing and I thought 'wow I guess I grieved early'. Then I went about my work day and with the emotions of where I was working mixed with the hidden emotions of my grief, I quickly realized I may need time. I carried through as I kept reminding myself that I had no right to be paralized by this. A co worker friend showed up out of nowhere to relieve me of my evening shift and she told me to go home. I didn't know what to do. What would I do at home? How could I justify this? Instead she offered to just be with me and that made things better.

It wasnt' until I went to work Wednesday morning and began to cry on the way I knew that I probably shouldn't have gone. I met the first lady I saw and by the time I was pouring her meds (as she was yelling at me - which is a normal thing) I was bawling and saying 'Please stop, I've had a bad week'. To which she replied 'Yeah, yeah, I've had a bad week'. I nearly made an error while I was at it and it was then I knew that I needed a day to just stop.

The problem was I didn't understand why. Why should I get a day off when it was someone else's grief, someone else's family? I kept reminding myself it's not about me. I shouldn't make someone else's problem my own.

However, today I sit here and write while I'd normally be working. Because I am lucky to be surrounded by people that understand the importance of mental health. The importance of not creating your own crazy.

I'm not sure why I feel so prone to breakdowns (or near breakdowns). I guess some people have better immune systems than others.

I do know that taking a day or two to take care of yourself when you need to is important. As important as life or death.

Today I am thinking of Bee with love and remembering her laughter and smile with joy. She is at peace in the arms of her Father.