Yesterday I gathered with a group of people I consider family as we supported our friend at the memorial service for his son. This is no ordinary group of people…..but co-workers who learned to lean on each other through all the good and bad times in our lives.
I worked for 13 years at the State of Michigan as a case worker. I processed applications for food assistance, Medicaid, disability, and emergency services. I handled caseloads much higher than I should have, and I came home most days exhausted and emotionally spent. 13 years of hearing people at their worst. Most of the time I was yelled at by clients and/or managers. I was cussed out, threatened, begged, and hardly ever thanked. It was the best and worst job I ever had….something I had hoped would be my life long career…..but that wasn’t meant to be.
The relationships I made during my time there are still strong. We are the only people who understand what we went through on a daily basis. We went through hell together. We went through milestones together. We laughed to try to forget how hard the days were. We saw each other be treated like machines rather than people. And we always supported each other. These people became my family. And even though I’m no longer there, our bond is still that strong. A place like that changes you, it makes you different, and no one else understands that.
As we all sat together and cried as our friend expressed his love for his only son in front of a crowded church…..I was reminded of our deep bond. I cried for him and his loss….and I felt that loss. This was a person I called my work husband. He is truly an amazing person, someone you can always count on, and it broke my heart to see his pain. As I hugged him afterwards….many times….it was like no time had passed…..even though a million things have happened since I last saw him. But people like this…..time doesn’t change how we are together.
Ironically…..today is the anniversary of the day that I started that job. January 13, 2003. 16 years ago today I started a job that would lead me to people I cannot live without. No matter the outcome of that job…..I will forever be grateful for that. And they all feel the same way….we need each other. Time or distance will never change that bond.