I was anxious yesterday as I drove to an anniversary party for my coworker, Bea. Partially it was anxiety about the huge crowd of people I didn’t know, but mostly it was about one of the few people I did know. Deputy Wayne is her son-in-law. I had known about their relationship since a month or so into my job, and held out hope that this meant I would someday see him again. Now that it was happening, I was worried. Worried that he wouldn’t remember me. Worried that if he did remember me he’d tell me to eff off. Worried that he’d be nice, but then be really disappointed when he found out that I still didn’t have my life together.
I was three minutes late to the party, and he came in after I did. I stood across from him at the buffet, filling up my plate and not making eye contact, and he didn’t say anything to me. My anxiety grew. I ate my plate full of food at a completely empty table. Bea showed me a framed poem her granddaughter had written. I sat it back in the display and turned around and Deputy Wayne was standing nearby. When it seemed like his conversation with others had faded out, I walked up and nervously asked, “Remember me?” He said, “Of course I remember you” and hugged me. He asked how I was. Without even thinking, I said I was okay and then kicked myself for not being honest. I said, “I work with Bea now” and he said, “I know. I’m keeping tabs.”
I did end up telling him that I’d had a rough few weeks, but hopefully the latest med adjustment would help. He asked if I’d met his wife, and I said that I know her and she was the one who invited me. He told me to call anytime I need anything, or to call his wife. I said that I’ve thought about it a few times, but always talked myself out of it and he assured me it was okay to call. I got a second hug before he stepped away to talk to a relative, and a third when I went up to him to say goodbye. He said, “Bye, sweetheart” which made me laugh inside given the story of how we met in Celebrating February 14th.
I felt cared for at the party. Not just by learning that I do still have a cop for a guardian angel, but also by the rest of the family (at least the ones I already knew). Bea told me that another coworker and I were like having sisters. I had just made her cry by telling her how lucky she is to have so many people who love her, and she nearly made me cry in return. I got hugs from Bea and her husband and daughter and was thanked for coming, especially considering how hard it is for me to handle crowds of strangers (I lasted for an hour and twelve minutes before I felt like I really needed to go). Bea’s husband told me that he knows two women (Bea and our other coworker) who think very highly of me.
I’m really glad that I fought against my fears and attended the party, and so touched that there are people thinking of me when I’m not even around.