Kim requested and was given time off this past spring to go to Berlin with me. I was speaking at a conference and teaching a workshop.
We’d flown through Germany but had never stopped there. We were really looking forward to it.
She came home one day and told me that the head of rehab had left and they weren’t replacing him. The woman who’d headed up rehab for many years had left for another hospital. Kim had worked there a couple of times and was waiting for a position to open up.
No need for a head of rehab. One of the hospital administrators would take care of it.
“You have to leave,” I said.
“I know,” she agreed.
“No, this is the end.”
Sure enough, the administrator told Kim that she couldn’t find a record of the vacation days being approved. Kim found the email she’d received and sent it to her boss. She didn’t hear back.
“I’m going,” she said. “They approved the days. I’m going.”
But she still wouldn’t let me book the trip.
One morning she came in with my coffee and said, “you’re going to be mad at me.”
“I can’t go to Germany,” she said sadly.
“But I only agreed to go because you said you were going too,” I said.
“I know,” she said.
One of Kim’s co-worker’s was getting married the week after our Germany trip. Kim figured she’d want less pressure and more time to take care of last minute details before the wedding.
“She wouldn’t do it for you,” I said.
“I know,” Kim said.
But that doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t do things only for people who would do the same for you. If you’re a giving person – give.
“She won’t appreciate it,” I said. “She n not even notice.”
“I know,” Kim said.
I shook my head.
“I’m sorry honey,” Kim said, “I know you wanted me to go. You go.”
I really did want her to go. She loved traveling and I loved traveling with her. We were too close to the date of the conference for me not to go. I booked the flight.
We were originally supposed to go to Berlin and then on to London. Kim loved London. Kim had decided that she’d fly back when I went to London. That was the week of her co-worker’s wedding. They’d be short-staffed. She wanted to be there to help out.
Her co-worker quit her job before the wedding. She left to take a job with Kim’s old boss. A job that Kim would have loved to have been offered. Kim would have to wait until a job opened up.
I told Kim, “you can come to Berlin with me now.”
“No,” she said, “I have to stay and help them out.
Not only were they short staffed, one of Kim’s co-workers was threatening to quit. She always threatened to quit.
“They can bring in someone PRN,” I said.
“Who?” she asked.
“That’s not really your problem. You were given permission to take the days off. Come with me.”
Kim stayed behind to help the hospital.
I flew to Berlin. I had a great time. I saw some museums, walked a lot, ate great food, met wonderful people, and enjoyed the conference. I visited two sets of friends in their apartments. Kim would have loved it.
I flew to London and stayed in a hotel we’d stayed in many times. I walked to a pub we’d eaten at many times. I got back to the hotel about the time that Kim would be getting home. I started up Skype and called her.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hi,” she said like I was calling from upstairs. There was no urgency as she asked me about my flight, where I was staying, what I had for dinner, and when I’d be teaching the next day.
I asked her how her day was.
“I got fired today,” she said.
I may have the details wrong but I think they let go of all the part timers and the nurse techs. I asked Kim when her last day was.
“Tomorrow,” she said.
Kim had worked there more than twenty years. She’d cancelled her vacation to help them out. She was fired with a day’s notice.
I guess it worked out. The next day one of her co-workers said she didn’t want to cover her hospital and Kim’s hospitals and would quit if they made her.
They hired Kim back.
On the one hand, she hadn’t missed a day of work. She came to work one day thinking it would be her last day and came to work the next day like she always did.
On the other hand, it changed everything. After twenty years she’d been fired for no good reason with a day’s notice.
The administrator who fired Kim was at the wake. She was very nice. She explained to me how important a presence Kim was at Grace and she told me a funny and typical story about Kim at work. It was a nice moment. She told me how much she enjoyed Kim as an employee at Grace and then turned to talk to Kim’s brother.
I silently asked the back of her head, “then why did you fire her?”
Kim was still so loyal and helpful – literally til the day she died. One of her friends and co-workers wrote a comment to a previous post about how Kim had encouraged her to move on.
That was Kim.
She knew she should move on – but not until the rest of her team was safe.
“Oh Kim,” I said on that call from London, “I’m so sorry I’m not with you while this is happening.”
“I know,” she said.
“Really, you should have been with me in Berlin last week. You should be with me in London now.”