Riding the waves of an avalanche

I’ve had a shitload of emotional stuff to navigate over the last eight days, but I’ve been aware of my body’s responses and tried to be kind to myself, and in the end of this ordeal, I think I’ll be happier and emotionally healthier.

My neighbour Evelyn’s death was a shock, absolutely. Her son and I kind of thought she was dehydrated or needed an adjustment to her medications. But then she up and died on the ride to hospital, minutes after that little wave she gave us while being loaded into the ambulance.

Now I’m spending time each day in her empty house, sorting through her stuff. She has a lot of stuff, much of it mementos from the past and crafting stuff she dreamed of getting back into one day. Some rooms are filled with boxes. She also has a cat, Mystery, who is alone in the place. I’m trying to find him a home but honestly, he’s a bit of a bully and needs a cat-savvy person to handle his resource-guarding. I worry for him. My heart breaks that he’s alone and missing his mom. I put her jacket on the bed and he sleeps there.

Grief doesn’t come easily to me, and I can’t force myself to cry. When you learn as a child that crying will get you banished to your room, you learn to stuff down the sadness so deep it’s like it doesn’t exist, but it’s there, like a low-level earthquake in the soul. I’ll go next door and visit with the cat again today, maybe do some sorting. Her son is overwhelmed with a sick wife and dealing with the estate of his deceased mother.

I quit that job with the federal government the other day, before it got going. I’m not sure it would ever get going. I’ll be returning to the retail store full-time. I even get a raise of a dollar an hour. The contrast between the two employers is immense. After I got training for the federal job, I was told there was no local work available. The deal I signed up for it necessitated me to be available three weekday evenings and one weekend day. No problem. I gave them my Saturdays. But they wanted Sundays. I said no. That’s my retail day, and that’s how I get 50% of my pharmaceuticals and dental costs covered. Plus, I was stuck at home until my credentials arrived. They never arrived. The somewhat snotty attitude told me I didn’t want to work there.

My manager at the retail store said “Come to work any day you want. Just walk in the door and we’ll put you to work.”

I headed to work yesterday morning, in the wake of our first snowstorm of the season. I knew few of the workers would be able to get to work. My commute is short. I walked in the door and went to work, juggling two departments for awhile. They seemed happy I was there.

I’ve been working part-time (four, six-hour shifts a week) since July 2021. Once training began for the federal job I decreased my shifts to just Sundays. The bump up to full time means I’ll work Tuesday-Saturday and get an hour lunch mid-shift. That’s enough time to go home and walk the dogs. And the raise of $37.50 a week is more than just money. It says they value my service.

What I like best about retail is that most shoppers are lovely. I was chatting to a lady yesterday. I mentioned my neighbour Evelyn passing away last week, and how much she loved Christmas. I said that in Evelyn’s honour, I’ll try to change my attitude about Christmas this year. I’ll try to love it, just a little bit.

“Oh, that gives me chills,” the woman said. “She wants you to love Christmas like she did.”

I don’t have room for the 7-foot artificial tree Evelyn bought from my retail outlet a couple weeks ago. But maybe I can get a table-top version. It may soften my Grinch heart just a little.

In the meantime, my email response to a CBC reporter in Vancouver to an online article about BC medicare ballooned into a multimedia story featuring me. I drove to work at the retail outlet Monday, hearing my own voice coming from the CBC radio station.

My gripe was that all those people, like me, who don’t have doctors due to a doctor-shortage get lost in the process of applying for special authority. I need SA to get a prescription for my Dexcom glucose meter renewed.

(The only thing I hate more than talking about diabetes is hearing myself talk about diabetes.)

Through the day I got messages from friends who heard the radio bit, read an online story on me or saw me talking at the top of the 6 p.m. telecast. Associates at work said the next day, “Hey I saw you on the news!”

I knew it would blow over. Now I’m hoping that my application for the Dexcom coverage gets filled soon, even though I said in the interview I didn’t want special treatment. I was speaking for all those unrepresented people who don’t have doctors. Until I get a Dexcom renewal, I’m stuck with poking my finger to check my glucose levels. I have no idea where I am in emotional response, and maybe after this week that’s not a bad thing.

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