the importance of family

RYAN: How goes the battle?
ME: Bloody. I will call you later.

That was an email exchange between me and a friend Tuesday – the day my department was obliterated and key members of our organization were sent packing, the latest victims of the economic clusterf*ck.

I wish I had been there to offer my support and hugs for those selected in the “reduction” effort. Instead, I was sitting on a bus when it all happened while coworkers texted me as they waited to learn of their fate – and my own. In the end, there were 12 of us left to sort through the wreckage.

I will never truly grasp how decisions in layoffs are made. I will never understand why some are selected and others aren’t. Of the four that we lost, all were members of my extended family here in California. And it hurt.

If you are a transplant like me, you have no family here. You did not go to college here. You had to start spinning your own network of friends, with most of it stemming from a single thread tied to work. I was lucky. The women I worked with were all strong, all classy, all mothers, and in varying leadership positions. They became sources of support, friendship, and in some cases – parenting when I needed it.

They served as mentors and role models for me both personally and professionally. They helped comfort me after an especially trying period of my personal life. They allowed me to grow into their organization, they never asked me to change. They let me push the boundaries of acceptable wardrobe choices without question. They allowed me to grill hotdogs on the cement foyer outside our office and set up a wet bar inside. They let me be me. And they did that with everyone in our group. That’s probably why our department is so close.

And I know I still have a lot to learn from the women who left: they handled the news of their departure with much more grace than I did.

I cried. A lot. And then after crying, followed by more crying, I coped with our losses by binging on Oreos and whiskey. I opened the bar in my office and began pouring wine to those still in shock. While I know that the people who left will bounce even higher in the end, I miss them all the same.

Yesterday those that remained went out to lunch together. We had burgers and beers. Napkins were used for wiping the occasional wet eye. I didn’t cry this time. I just kept swallowing and blinking. That helped.

I can say that we are going to continue this trend of bonding together and comforting one another. Like any family would. Here’s a snippet of a conversation I had this morning with one coworker.

ME: How are you doing today?
HER: Last night my husband asked me if he was sensitive enough and was supportive enough about the layoffs. I said no. But I have my work people for that.

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