I cried three times today at work.
You must remember that I work twelve hour shifts… gotta spread the cry out.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t down today at all. In fact, I was all smiles. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I have been ridiculously joyous lately… lots of random dance moves paired with normal life.
And only one out of the three cries were upset cries.
[let me remind you all that i work with people with mental disabilities.]
Josh has a pretty moderate brain disorder that puts him at about the mentality of a five year old. His speech is very slow and sometimes a bit hard to understand… but he is definitely the happiest client we have. All smiles, all the time.
I was helping Josh write an email to his mom… which means that I sit there and type and he tells me what to put down on the screen…
– Okay, Josh… How do you think we should start this thing?
– “Dear……. Mom.”
– “Dear Mom”… Awesome, that is a great way to start things off. Okay, what next? “Dear Mom…..”
– “I love you.”
I started crying. I don’t know why! It just caught me off guard. “Dear Mom, I love you.” … “Dear Mom, I love you.” …. !! I mean, how awesome is that? Who leads with that?? Incredible people, I’ll tell you that. He said it like he had to get it out before anything else… like it was absolutely urgent, the most important thing that he had to tell her. Gosh, we need more of that in this world.
Dear Family, Friends, Loves, You,
I love you.
Cindy is an older client, our smartest client. She gets very anxious about things… LOTS of things. Her diet is the latest…
– Who the hell decided we’d start cooking ground turkey instead of real beef? This is bullshit. I mean… We’re real people! You can’t just start replacing things like we’re not going to notice! Like we’re children!
– I don’t know, Cindy. I didn’t do that… I’m just trying to follow the rules.
– I’m not eating turkey! I hate it! [approximately ten more minutes of turkey bitching.]
– [obviously fed up… I, in a admittedly bratty tone, said] Well then, you can have peanut butter and jelly for dinner.
[cindy throws her cup.]
– YOU’RE A F-CKIN’ BITCH! YOU SHUT THE F-CK UP!
It scared me. I walked away. I went and knocked on the bedroom door of another client… a non-verbal client.
– Hey Kelly, can I come in?
[walk in. sit down next to her.]
– Hi, how are you doing?
[she gives me the thumbs down.]
– Me too… Me too.
[and i started crying.]
All settled down around the house and it was time for Kelly [our non-verbal] to make a phone call. She usually calls her family members and they ask her questions and she can make noises that they understand. It’s really a beautiful thing. But tonight we were trying her new tool called a “Go Talk”, which has buttons with pre-programed sayings like, “How are you?”, “I had a great day!”, “I had a bad day”, “Yes”, “No”, etc.
So, we called her brother, Josh [from cry one… they have the same disability but she is deteriorating at a much higher rate than him]. It’s incredible watching these two communicate in real life… and the phone is precious as well. I dialed his number and put it on speaker phone and Kelly got so excited that it took her a good while to push any of the buttons. But once she did, the conversation got going… and got pretty funny. She would push random buttons and Josh would try to keep up and not get confused.
– ::I had a great day!::
– That’s good… Kelly… Did you… eat… dinner?
– …..Hi Kelly.
It was pretty ridiculous for a while. Listening to the recorded voice and then the confusion of Josh… it was actually pretty funny. But then Kelly found that heart-strung button…
[amidst the confusing conversing, kelly pushes a button and the robot woman says…]
– ::I love you::
[a pause from josh… probably a realization of clarity… and then…]
– I love… you… Kelly.
It hit me. Like a soft shove to the chest. I had to put my hand on my collar bones, try to compose myself, tell myself, “Pull it together, woman.” But no. The warmth rose in my face and tears of preciousness fell right from my eyes. And then my co-worker and I laughed at myself.
– Oh… That is so swe-… Wait a second, are you crying?!
– Haha! Oh my god, you’re crying!
– It’s just so precious!
[it was. i’m not sorry.]
[p.s. all names are changed for their protection.]