Another Step Forward

Today is the first February 9th that I have worked since 2017. I can vividly remember the details of how that day played out, but to sum it up…. There was a blizzard, I was working from home on my couch (don’t ask me why I wasn’t in the home office) and in the middle of an Employee Engagement meeting I got a call from my sister – a call to tell me it was time to come to the hospital and say goodbye to our mom. The good news about a blizzard is the roads were empty, and fortunately we have a truck. We made it to Long Island and I was able to say goodbye. I took some time off and went back to work on February 20th but at some point I put a permanent recurring meeting on my calendar to block of February 9th as “take today off” and it’s set to show me as out of office.

My mom, sitting on a couch in her parents’ living room

For the last 5 years, I’ve spent February 9th on the same couch I was working from in 2017. I cuddle up with my cats and a blanket and watch movies all day long. It’s my way of coping and as I put it to coworkers, it allows me a day to not deal with people. I don’t have to worry if I’ll get triggered in a meeting and want to be sad. I have built myself a buffer for my own mental health – I allow myself to be sad and I don’t worry about what other people will say or do. Sometimes when I think about this day of reflection, I wonder if it’s something I will always do. For now I have ample time off and can afford to burn the day – plus it forces me to take at least one day off in Q1.

Today I learned that February 9th doesn’t just have to be a day to curl up and watch movies. I had a meeting that I needed to attend as prep for a training I am doing in a couple weeks. I knew signing up for the training that I would have this meeting and decided I could make it work. Then a couple other pressing things came up and I ended up working all morning….and a bit of the afternoon. I knew I could take off. I knew I had logged the time already. But I still decided to work. If for nothing else, knowing I had the excuse that I was “off” so I could log out and be done if I wanted to. I spent the rest of the day with Tom visiting some friends. Today marked the first day in a while that February 9th wasn’t a sad day. Not because I actively kept myself busy to forget what today was – I didn’t, it was on my mind all day – but with time wounds heal. It’s still hard knowing she’s not here. It’s really hard on special occasions. But I hope she’s proud of who I’m becoming as I grow up. I hope she’s up there, smiling down on me.

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