A Change in the Wind, Part Three (Long)
I had pretty much decided that I would accept any reasonable offer that the continuing care community would make. If for some reason no offer was forthcoming, I was going to leave The Little Church in December.
A Monkey Wrench of the most surprising kind.
In the form of contact from the director of the autistic school. It seemed that they were thriving and busy beyond belief at their new location. Would I want to come and talk with them about possibly coming to work part-time in the office?
I went off to Black Rock a bundle of nerves. My knee was acting up and I knew I was on the verge of an irreversible decision of tremendous importance. I spent more time than usual alone on our retreat, pondering the possibilities, confiding in my closest friends. They were terrific listeners, never trying to sway me in one direction or the other, just assuring me that they knew I would make the right decision.
The day after returning, there were two important telephone conversations. One was setting up the meeting with the residents at the continuing care community. The other was scheduling a visit to the autistic school. But my head and my heart were in a good place. The uncertainty that had permeated the weekend was gone.
The travel time to one location was greater than the other, and it would involve unpleasant driving in the snowy season. Yet the salary potential and flexibility seemed to be greater at that location. These were issues, to be sure, but my decision finally came down to three things:
1. In my work at the hospital, I deal with loss all of the time. It is acute loss; I meet with the patient or the family one or two times. If I have a lot of loss events during a shift, I come home exhausted. My close friends are of an age where they have also begun to deal with issues of loss. At the continuing care community, I would be dealing with chronic loss, meeting with people repeatedly as they faced loss. At the school I would be in an atmosphere of achievement, success, progress (however limited).
2. At the hospital (and at The Little Church), I am alone. At the hospital it is me and a patient or me and a family. I do not work with other people. At the CCC I would interact from time to time with members of the admin team; most of the time, I would be working alone with a resident. At the school I would be working with a fifteen or twenty adults and fifteen or twenty very lively kids.
3. At the CCC, I would be working with people my age or older all of the time. People facing various losses and downward transitions. At the school I would be with people of a variety of ages, people getting married, having babies. Students getting older and new, young students coming in. There would be the milestone markers and celebrations that are part of each school year.
Confident that I had thought things through very carefully and reached a good conclusion, I met with the autistic school team and was happy to accept, on the spot, their offer of a very part-time office manager position, to begin in the middle of the month.