I’ve just come from a funeral for a woman I didn’t know. I’m not one of those who generally attends funerals unless it is someone close to me, but this was the wife of one of the managers on our leadership team and it was assumed that you would be there. It would not hurt me to show up.
It’s been a weird week. On Monday came the news that this woman had been found dead, by her husband when he returned home from running some errands. She had been sitting at the computer, much like I am now, working on her dissertation as she did every evening. She was to convocate in April with her PhD in nursing.
One of the other managers has been off most of the week attending – I can only assume – legal offices as she is undergoing a sudden divorce. I assume he is a cheatin’ heart as he sent her an email a few months ago saying that she seemed to do better without him and that he was willing to let her go. A cheatin’ heart and an asshole – who breaks up their 20 year old marriage by email?
Another manager had to deal with a nurse who just simply walked off the unit abandoning patient, co-workers and presumably, career.
There were nurses crying in the back hallways when a man recited the wedding vows he and his wife exchanged 14 years ago as she lay, critically ill in one of the beds and families trooping in members by the tour groups to look upon the frail, wasting body of daddy who cries every time he is touched yet is seen by his children as full of life and desire to do everything. And everything is, so very much.
Then out in the world a physician MLA is hell bent on self-destruction all in the name of improving patient care – or furthering his own agenda – the jury is still out on which is his primary goal. Mysterious claims of pay offs in the millions to physicians to keep patient on waiting lists and hundreds dying while languishing on the list instead of getting supposed life saving surgery. It seems a little far fetched as every surgeon I know will give up his first born in order to operate, any day on anything. You can’t pay them to NOT operate – they are not farmers.
Then a casual conversation in the stairwell – where, I should know by now, all really important conversations take place – to an ex-coworker from my previous job resulted in her running back to her unit and spreading the information that I was saying nasty things about someone who worked there. Wow. Whereupon the alleged injured party stormed into my unit, demanded to talk with me and then proceeded to rip me a new one while demanding that I never, ever talk about her again – to anyone. Well, shock and sideswiped I was.
See, perception of an event creates a reality for the individual even if that is not the way it happened, and now, in her mind, I have been judged and found guilty of spreading tales of incompetence and and laziness. In reality I acknowledge I know nothing about what she does and I am grateful that I don’t have her job.
But I see from this experience and from reading of the head of thoracics who claims to have been run out of the province, how very easy it would be for innocent remarks to become fodder for the anger of others and very easily lead to a life changing event.
The mob mentality is simmering, always, just below the surface presentation of civility. Just a simple comments, a look, a murmured innuendo and the frenzy of self-righteous lynch mob spills forth through FB, titter and the like to decide your fate. We live believing our reality is stable, but it sits on the edge of a precipice.
And from how fragile that tenuous hold we have on our own reality I connect how easily our lives change forever through one event – the sudden death of a loved one, the sudden loss of love, the mysterious anger of a previous friend, acquaintance or even sibling. We balance so close to being lost in the fog around communication, so easily do we become lost, and alone in what we perceive. In a blink our communal reality is dissipated, as if it never existed. In a heart beat we are separated from others, and in a halt of a heart beat we are lost to the fog.