When I last wrote, I spoke of Brian getting a positive COVID test a few days into my newfound freedom from a toxic work environment. In that time, I was glad to be off work. I couldn’t imagine working (even from home) while things were so stressful. I was so worried about him and the boys, my cousin, and myself. Brian was great in trying to make us all believe he was doing okay, even as he looked like death and was constantly coughing what sounded – like his guts up. Brian’s work had been short-handed, so even with his illness, he worked through it (he has been working from home since March or so). He did his best and his coworkers were so appreciative and supportive. I wanted him to take time off, but he knew it would just screw someone else. The blasted virus hit Brian hard. He likely caught it 8+ weeks ago but still has a cough and fatigue. Thankfully, he seems to have gotten much better over this last week.
If you’ve been in quarantine, you know what a great feeling it is to be free 😊 My first day out, I visited a good friend and she bought us Thai food and we had lovely chat. I was also able to meet another friend the next day and sit by the river and eat. I have a small bubble, but it felt good to get out of the house. It was wonderful to sleep in my own bed again and not feel like I was walking into the death room as it felt like for a time.
Thanksgiving was simply wonderful. Our “adopted son,” Hunter came to spend the holiday with us. He was a rotational who had the misfortune of being placed in Rockford (he’s from NY) at the very beginning of the pandemic. He was out here alone – so far from family, girlfriend and friends. When we started working from home, and realized he had no human interaction, I invited him over for dinner. We would eat outside and it became a weekly thing. I went from thinking, I was doing the right thing by having him over, to truly loving this kid. It has been a great joy to get to know him and he became part of our family, with the boys even referring to him as our “favorite son.” Cal goes so far as to say that it is nice that Ryne is now a middle child. The work situation was awful and was so glad for him when his rotation ended in Rockford and was able to then move on the Wisconsin facility. I missed him and having him “home” for Thanksgiving made our holiday all the better. We had done a lot of hiking through the pandemic and was wonderful to get in another hike on Black Friday.
It was also Thanksgiving that Caleb said that the one and only person in his bubble was now getting migraines. He had just spent hours with her in a car that Tuesday. We dismissed it and then became a little more alarmed when we learned on Friday that she had gone in for a COVID test. Cal began to complain of symptoms. He has always been anxiety ridden about the virus, so we still weren’t too concerned, thinking it might be psychological – until that evening when her mother tested positive. Caleb began to feel worse and by Sunday (the day his friend came back positive) had become very ill. His test took a few days but was then confirmed he, too, had COVID. It was one of the worst things ever – seeing your son so sick. I was his caregiver (Brian was working) and was shocked to test negative. Still, by the time the test came back I was already too far in with him. Caleb had most symptoms you hear about. He was the sickest he’s ever been. I was so scared as his chest was so heavy feeling. The poor kid….was just so awful. He lost weight and color (which is hard to imagine with how white this kid is). This virus did this to a healthy, sixteen-year-old, swimmer. Thankfully, he is all those things and the worst of it was about a week. He still struggles with fatigue and headaches but is doing much better. His school just went to remote learning, and it has helped. He had returned to school for a couple days and would have to nap twice after school. Being home all day now has been helpful to his recovery. Swim season was also postponed in its first week, just as he got sick. So, he is lucky that he didn’t have to miss out on the season because of the illness.
Again, I was grateful that I wasn’t working. I would not have been able to take care of Caleb the way I did, had I been working. Because I was Caleb’s caregiver, I need to quarantine an additional two weeks after he got out of quarantine. I get out next week. I will have spent nearly four of six weeks in quarantine. Ryne has been lucky through it all. He has not had any symptoms. We don’t know if he was A-symptomatic or didn’t get it. He did not want to test. We were also able to separate him from Cal, so his quarantine was less than mine. During this quarantine, he did lose his job, though. There were cuts and out of 17 employees in his dept, 13 were cut. This is a real bummer, as it was his first real job. It was good for him in a lot of ways. Caleb is a lifeguard and has had his hours cut dramatically through the pandemic, as well.
My former boss and the site leader were let go a couple of weeks ago. I guess timing is everything. I would not have left my job, had this happened earlier. I then of course began to second guess my decision, but even another month in that situation would not have been good for me. My eating, soda consumption, wine intake was all out of control, as well as my blood pressure.
This will seem off topic, but it is not. In the economy crash/housing crisis of 2008, Brian lost his job. We were blindsided as he worked for DHL, the third largest delivery company in the world. He was in a union and had seniority. DHL decided to pull domestic service and just like that, Brian and 95% of US employees lost their job. To say the situation was stressful, does not even cover it. There were no jobs. After a year of not working, he went to school to work on wind turbines. After graduation, there were no jobs in the NW. It had now been two years since he worked and ended up taking a job in IL. The plan was for him to gain experience and then find a job in NW. There were still no jobs, so after nine months of the family being separated, we decided to move the family to IL. The plan was to be here for one year and then move back. I left my job of 10 ½ years and came out here with no job prospects. It took a while but thankfully did get a job. In all that happened, we had to start completely over, financially. It was a truly devastating situation and one I never want to go through again.
I have always been a fish out of water here in Illinois. The boys were doing good here, Brian has moved up in his job a couple of times and loves what he does. It felt like it was a good fit for them but not for me. Finally, I began to see God’s plan for taking me here, but then for the same reason, I ended up becoming angry with God and questioning what I thought was his path/reason (certainly not my finest time).
We have established roots here. We promised the boys they would graduate here as we had moved them too much. The plan was still to move somewhere back in in NW after Cal graduated, but then with Cal wanting to go to college here (Ryne is couple years ahead of him in school) and considering Brian’s age and love for job – I knew we would be here until Brian retired. I have done a lot of work on myself and through therapy. I work to accept a life here. It feels in a lot of ways as if Illinois equals turmoil. It is here that I got so sick and could have died. I’ve gone through so much here but thankfully, I feel like I’ve grown into a different, stronger person. I have the greatest therapist. I would not say I have a lot of friends here, but I have loving, good people as friends. I was meant to know them. We have been adopted into a wonderful family out here. There are many reasons, I cannot wait for this pandemic to end. I am a social person and it has been hard to be apart from those I care about out here (and of course not being able to travel to see friends and family). The pandemic is a real fuck. I bitch, but we are so lucky. I have had friends end up in the hospital and some lose parents to this fucking thing. As sick as Brian and Cal got, thank God, they are okay.
Anyway, I digress. Last week, Brian got a call on his day off from some mucky muck that he had never heard of, saying his last day was in six days. Brian’s department duties were being moved to India. Uh, what the fuck?! Brian works for a worldwide company, and they had always been assured their jobs were protected – that U.S. sites require U.S. monitoring. (They also monitor all over the world). Yes, the company that Brian worked through COVID for, didn’t take his bereavement time because they were short-handed, was given six days notice from someone he had never heard of. This was especially shocking as they had just hired someone a few weeks ago. Merry Fucking Christmas, right?
I feel terrible for Brian. He has worked for them for more than ten years. We live in Illinois because of this job. Brian has shut down. It has been a lot to process. I have been an absolute wreck. Of all the timing to walk away from my job. Caleb is the only one in the house with a job and offered to get me and Brian on at the parks district. He is so sweet. My biggest fear is over health insurance. Brian has great insurance and my guess is the COBRA payment will be larger than unemployment benefits. I’m getting 3D mammograms every 3-6 months. We need to keep it. Immediately, my head went to the food bank lines you see on t.v. If there is a dark place, I can go there.
Yesterday I went for a drive and got my favorite lunch (baked potato with cheddar cheese, broccoli and cauliflower). I spoke with a friend on the phone (without crying), listened to music and sat by the river and ate. It was a mood lifter. Not long after I got home, a friend text to say she had done a porch drop and left the most thoughtful gift and Christmas arrangement for the family. If we had not moved out here, I would not know her or the other kind, loving people I have become close with. My head is on a lot more straight now. When it happened, I recoiled at being someone who always makes things happen, but now I am in that head space. Thank God, we had saved money for me to quit my job. The money was not meant to live on without Brian’s job, but it is money. There are so many others out there who were not as fortunate.
We are honoring our commitment to stay out here for the boys. I’m focusing on all of the good that has happened in this short time since leaving my job. My blood pressure was scary. I have gotten that down. I’ve lost a good chunk of weight. I get 10,000+ steps in on most days. Physically, I feel so much better. It is nice not to have that awful swelling in the hands from eating out. I’ve only drank twice in past 6+ weeks. I’m proud of all of this, especially in the midst of all we have been through. I have been in talks with a company for a couple of months now. I have not been able to go in for third interview because of the quarantines but there is still hope there as I meet with him at the end of the month. I have had no interest in a management position, but he has done a good job of selling it to me. I also had a phone interview the other day (with another company) and have a follow up Zoom interview with the management team on Monday. I did not know that I wanted to work yet but we adapt with what is going on and now I would just be truly grateful. Nothing is certain in this economy. I do not think either of them is a slam dunk but I am blessed to at least have interviews so close to the holidays and at a time when unemployment is so high. Brian has also been applying place and really hope he is able to stay working in the field of wind energy. Oh, and he was told yesterday – they need he and his partner to stay on through the end of the month. We are extremely fortunate to get these unexpected two extra weeks of work. The other crew was not so lucky.
I remain grateful for the friends who are always reaching out as they know I’m not one who initiates a lot of conversations. I crawl into a shell and am blessed so many know how to still reach me.
I know this was a lot and am not sure if anyone is still reading – but it has made me feel better to write this all out. If you are in a similar situation with this economy, I wish you all the best.
I’ll leave you some Dolly. I’ll be fine and dandy.