This coming Wednesday, March 22, will mark 4 years since I retired. I value my 25-year career with Verizon (formerly GTE, for those who remember that company). I worked hard. I made lots of mistakes, but learned from them. I had opportunities and took on responsibilities I didn’t even know existed when I started there. I had good bosses and great mentors. And, best of all I met people from all over the world and gained valuable friendships. I truly loved my job. So why leave?
Simply put – it was time.
In the fall of 2018, when Verizon offered the opportunity to sign up for an early retirement package, it had been about 18 months since Rachel died. If the offer had come a year earlier, I don’t know what I would have done. Those first six months after she left this Earth my mind was numb and my body hurt from grieving. I can’t tell you much about the projects we had or what our team accomplished during that time. My peers and my team carried the work. I know I got on planes and traveled to meet with customers. I made presentations and approved expense reports. At least I’m pretty sure I did. I don’t really remember.
When the first anniversary of her death came, it hit hard. But, by then I was more clear-headed. Perhaps not being numb any more made blows like unwanted milestones hurt worse. But, most days I could make decisions and retain instructions and advice. And, not crumble when something unexpected crossed my path.
So, when the early out sign-up was announced, I could consider it rationally. It wasn’t an easy decision. I knew that in a year or so it was likely I’d have the opportunity to move to a higher level. It would mean more money. But, it would also mean lots of travel, including overseas. I would take on a bigger team with more customers. And, in all fairness, I would need to commit to at least 3-5 more years with the company. Was I up for that?
I prayed about it a lot. My husband and I had lots of discussions. I created multiple versions of our budget. And, in the end we both agreed that I should put in my request. It wasn’t a guarantee that I would be picked, and that was okay, too. When I got the news that I was on the list, I was excited, scared, and a little sad. After all, a season of my life was ending – a season that had lasted 40% of my life up to that point.
In the 4 years since I retired, we’ve made a lot of changes. We sold our house in Tampa that we lived in for over 20 years. That meant having to sort through decades of “stuff” and give away or sell some things that we just didn’t have room for anymore, including my grandmother’s antique bed and my mother’s kitchen table. It meant trading in my convertible for an all-wheel-drive SUV. But, it also meant we got to move to our river house full time. And that we were only 2 hours away from our grandkids instead of 4. Most of a year was spent constructing what my husband calls his office building and I call a guest house. Then we remodeled our kitchen. And got a new roof (that was not on the wish list!).
That was a 4-year season of busyness, a mix of excitement and frustration, rethinking my husband’s own retirement goals, and me deciding how to spend my time. Once again, lots of prayer and lots of discussions.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.Ecclesiastes 3:1
There have been bumps in the road, for sure. We’ve had some disagreements about small decisions. But, we are content with our big decisions. One of my decisions was to start blogging. My posts this last year reflect my ongoing grief, my fears, my joys, and my faith. My new season.
I do believe there is a season for everything and a time for every purpose. Part of my purpose right now is to share what I have learned in child loss and perhaps to give hope to other grieving hearts. One of those lessons is to let yourself grieve and to give yourself time to mourn. If at all possible, don’t heap big decisions on top of your already tall mountain of sorrow. Take small steps. Rest often. You’re still making progress.
A new season will come when it’s time.
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