Monday, October 19, 2009

Guilt...I Think...Maybe Not...Or Perhaps...

I awoke this morning still stuffy and aching, but feeling markedly better than I did over the weekend. I almost didn't check my temperature, but I guess I had a little more time on my hands than is the norm. I was surprised to see that I did, in fact, have a slight fever. How very ironic!

The rule of thumb at school is this: If you have a fever, we do not want to see you. You are a plague-carrier and will strike us all down should you so much as breathe in the parking lot. Stay home and boil yourself until you can claim to be completely sterilized but not so much as to give yourself more of a fever because then you can't come to work.

I was scheduled to be at a workshop today, but it was on school property. I pondered the matter, but finally decided to take advantage of the rule. I didn't feel well. A day resting at home when I wasn't expected in my classroom anyway was something of a gift.

I turned on the computer and logged onto the district's Website Of Illness Documentation and entered my intentions. The Internet seemed satisfied that I was truly ill. I logged out of the site.

Next I went through a few million sites so I could log onto the web-based version of my school email. (I just can't seem to get the "real" version to load onto my home computer...) From there I emailed the person organizing the workshop to let her know that I wouldn't be there today. Just for good measure, I also emailed my director in case she showed up to take attendance. Since I was already on the site, I emailed everyone else I thought might be interested in my malaise. You never know who might be suddenly overtaken by the urge to send me a balloon bouquet...

Then I went back to bed because I was exhausted from all the energy it takes for a teacher to arrange a day of rest.

I awoke to discover that my fever had broken and the aches had subsided. I blew my nose forty times, then checked to see if any balloon bouquets were delivered during my morning's respite. There weren't any in evidence, but there is still time. Truth be told, I'm sort of re-thinking the whole balloon bouquet thing anyway. They take up a lot of space.

Checking my school email from home is a pain and, since it never contains good news, I rarely do this. But I was nervous about missing the training and wanted some reassurance that people weren't writing up my pink slip. All responses were very understanding and I was relieved. Then I opened the one from my principal. The one in boldface. That he marked "urgent" and sent to the entire staff. I kind of knew what it was. But I'd hoped for better.

It was as I'd feared. One of our colleagues passed away yesterday. This has been coming for a while now and we were prepared for the news. However, no one thought it would be quite this soon. This woman was a much loved member of the staff and a favorite of many students. The school has been providing meals for her family since last spring and last Friday's dance was a benefit to help out with medical costs. It is a loss of epic proportions.

And I barely knew her. My job isn't one that lets me get out and about very often. When I learned she was sick, I had to stop and think a minute before I could visualize her. If the situation was reversed, I suspect she would have needed the same minute to picture my face.

Now I sit in that awkward position of sadness, but not really feeling the impact in the same way as others. The building will be different when I go back tomorrow and I've emailed the principal to extend my condolences as well as offers of support. But I can't claim the same sorrow. This always makes me feel a bit guilty even though that is rather irrational.

You do what you can. And if you happen to be home sick when you get the bad emails, you do what you can from there. Which isn't much. With limited options, conflicting emotions and the need to do more than just sit, I did what made sense to me in the moment.

I spun.

I don't think my colleague knew I was a spinner. Most people with whom I work don't. But I think she would have appreciated it. She seemed like the type. She took an interest in my knitting that one time we were in a work group together. It's not out of the question to think that she might find spinning kind of cool.

I guess I'll never know. And that, I think, is the heart of the matter for me.



trek said...

Oh, my.


About everything.

Hope you are up and about tomorrow.

Ronni said...

I'm sorry you're still under the weather. And my sympathies to everyone.

April said...

Oh Sheepie, I'm so sorry. I hope you feel better tomorrow.

knitseashore said...

I am so sorry to hear of your school's loss -- it will be difficult when you return to work, I'm sure, to help the students process missing this staff person. They are so young. I remember when we lost a fellow student to sudden illness at sixteen and how hard that was for everyone.

I'm glad your fever broke, and I hope you feel back to normal soon. Being sick just stinks.

Donna Lee said...

Those are some of the hardest kind of losses. I often feel like I don't deserve to grieve because I didn't know the person well but somehow I feel their loss.

I'm at work today despite running a slight fever last night. We have the same fever rule but it was slight enough that I don't want an occurrence for it. I'm sitting at my desk freezing right now. Maybe I can go home early.