With a new routine established once again in our home, and my wife gaining more and more mobility, it was now time for me to arrange for my return back to work. When I contacted the company to make those arrangements I was met with a less than cold response. It seemed that legally they were required to allow me a leave and now legally they were required to bring me back to work but that is as far as they wanted to take it. Consequently, my return was carefully coordinated and supervised by head office. Specifically, they made arrangements for the manager who was covering my store while I was off to remain, coming in two to three times a week to ‘assist’ me. There was no other reason provided, other than that one, and no clear plan on how long that ‘assisting’ would last for. It was awkward for both me and the assigned manager.
My fall from grace was now complete it would seem. This last year had been a particularly difficult one for me personally, as I was quite broken emotionally and mentally, trying to deal with the fragmentation in my life, due to my past trauma and loss. My non pastor wannabe counselor was relentless in his pursuit of my ‘freedom’ and I would end up seeing him almost every day he was back from the island. Although, this last year involved that incident out at the ranch where I refused to take another step and as a result he labelled me as rebellious and disobedient, among other things. My apparent screw-up at the hospital had done nothing to help the situation either, leaving me more and more in his bad books.
This was on top of me being completely estranged from my parents. Somewhere along the journey of my own counselling with my non pastor pastor, we went from needing to forgive my parents to needing to stay away from the both of them because they were in the clutches of the evil one. So I did.
Then there was the awkwardness of our larger church family. Just as I was bringing my wife down to the Women’s Hospital my larger church family had drawn a line in the sand with me in particular, letting me know that among other things, I was sinning because of the way I was “playing God” with my wife’s life. God gave me a brain so I should use it was another popular one. After I brought my wife home I could feel the “I told you so’s” whenever I would run into a fellow church congregant although no one had the balls to say it out loud to my face.
I had also lost our family doctor along this journey, although that decision was all mine after the abusive stand he took against my wife and I. I am sure he would have more than enjoyed having us back in his office dictating just how we ought to be running our lives.
And so, feeling cut-off from almost everyone in this valley city but desperate to try and reclaim some normalcy once again in our lives, I returned to work – to the company that I had spent the last seven, almost eight years with – to the company that I had won numerous awards, bonuses, saved a store from being shut down, and won one of three top presidential awards out of 1200 nation-wide managers. A place where, only a few months earlier, I had a lot of respect from my peers and from corporate. But, none of that was there upon my return.
Instead, I was supervised like a brand new manager might be. I was supervised like someone who could no longer be trusted. I was supervised like they were never expecting me to fully return to work.
Fuck them then. Fuck them all.
I was pissed off and in a short while this entire valley city filled my nostrils with a nauseating stench. The oasis that was our home was looking and feeling more and more like an island prison where I needed to gain permission from the council in order to venture off of the island. I couldn’t stand any public interaction and it felt like people would pause their lives to stare at me – at my family, whenever and wherever we would show up.
I couldn’t take it any longer and so within a few short weeks of returning to work I began looking for other work – work that would take us out of this crummy city, out of this God-forsaken place. I didn’t have to look very hard as I found an opportunity with another corporate chain of restaurants. I made arrangements to go down to the coast for the day to hang out at one of their locations – think of it as a very long job interview – and as a result they offered me a position of general manager at one of their restaurants in a neighboring province.
With great relief and excitement we began to make arrangements for this epic move. We were moving to what could easily be called the golden city of the prairies. It was a booming city thanks to its natural resources and it was by far the largest city that I had ever lived in. The new company had offered me a substantial raise, along with paying a good portion of my relocation costs. We made arrangements to rent our home to the ‘new’ manager of the restaurant coming in to take over for me back in the valley city.
And so, with mixed emotions we loaded our belongings into a rented moving van and prepared ourselves for this incredible new adventure. Given that my wife was still recovering from the surgery I needed to drive our van with the family, and so with reluctance, we agreed to the offer for help from our non pastor pastor who, along with his son, would drive our moving van.
We pulled out of our driveway for the last time and began the ten hour journey to our new home in another province.
Good riddance, I thought, as we drove up and out of the valley. It was my hope to never see this valley city again. I wanted to bury my memories of this place alongside my son and my brother.
Famous last words I suppose.