She had expected this day for months. After 23 years, she’d almost welcomed it. She was prepared psychologically, emotionally, and financially, rationalizing that it offered the best of all worlds. Her family was ready. She was ready.
Yet on that day, there was a part of her that wanted to wish it away, and she promised herself that she wouldn’t cry, as she walked down the hall to his office. During that brief and last encounter with him, the anticipation and sense of impending doom was put to rest, as reality smacked her (she knew it would) right between the eyes.
Those eyes were now brimming with tears, as she returned to her once-comfortable executive office to pack all that remained of her personal belongings. She called home to confirm that it was fait accompli; and as if in shock, stood alone and still at the window, staring out at the street.
It was no surprise to see Augie cruising back and forth, awaiting the verdict. He lowered the car window, and catching her eye, gestured a questioning, “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”.
Earlier that day, they’d shared lunch with a small inner circle of friends, raising their glasses; toasting to what had been and what was yet to come. The pros and cons, were carefully weighed and openly voiced. Hundreds of her co-workers expected their ‘news’ today, as well. For months the general feeling had been one of helplessness and incredulity. Today, almost dutifully, the friends awkwardly laughed, recalling happier days and promising to stay ‘in touch’, despite the inevitable cyclone of corporate ‘right-sizing’ that was headed their way.
Now that the fireworks were over, tears began to well up again (they would so often in the days to come) as she sadly motioned ‘thumbs down’ to Augie. He shrugged; silently, knowingly offering his consolation, encouragement, and empathy, with the shared glance of an old friend.
It was at that moment, she began to comprehend how truly life-changing this would be.