Letters to Mom 027: Gloves


Mom, I really need to talk to you. Of all of the things I haven’t written to you about, I’m ashamed that I need your insight over gloves.

The thing that pushes me to write and reach out to you isn’t passing my first semester of nursing school. It’s not to let you know that I was diagnosed with cancer, or that I had surgery, or that I’m recovering well enough though I still give myself shit for “not being better”.

No. It’s nothing all that important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a pivotal point in my life; maybe my career. It might make my life hell for the next forever and though I feel I did the right thing, though I’ve talked to several people who agree I did the right thing, it’s you who I want to say those words.

Fuck my life, mom. Fuck my sense of justice and integrity. I couldn’t just let this go and now I might have ruined everything.

Today as we were leaving work, the RN I was working with took a handful of gloves.

RN: I need to stop for gas on the way home. Have to stay safe out there.

I watched her take the gloves. I didn’t try to stop her. I didn’t say anything about, “You shouldn’t take those.” I did nothing except let it happen.

I was so bothered by it though. We’re in a pandemic and you’re going to take supplies meant to provide care for our patients and use them to pump gas? That’s not right. None of that is right.

I was so conflicted, mom. I still am. I called Ox and I told him what had happened and that I didn’t know what to do. This is the RN who had an issue with me coloring during my downtime at work. Was I bothered simply because I wanted to retaliate?

No… I was bothered because we as employees of our company signed a contract saying we wouldn’t take work supplies for personal use. That’s theft. It doesn’t matter that it was gloves. It could have been anything. A handful of paper towels. Masks. Hand sanitizer. It could have been anything that the company ordered for the clinic.

Our supplies are meant for the clinic, not for you. If you want to use gloves while you pump gas then go buy a box of gloves from the store like every other person who doesn’t work in the health care field has to do. That’s why I go out and buy my own page protectors from Office Depot rather than taking a pack from the stash at work.

Could I? Yes. Do I? No, because I said I wouldn’t.

Ox encouraged me to reach out to my FA. Maybe the RN had spoken to her about taking a few gloves. Maybe there was more to the situation I didn’t know about. That was a valid point. I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

So I called. I asked if anyone on our team as asked to use work supplies for personal matters.

FA: What do you mean?


So I explained the situation.

FA: No. No one talked to me about that. This is an issue. We can’t have this happening.

There is going to be a message sent to all of us at the clinic in regards to supplies. The RN is going to know it’s me. My FA said she was going to talk to the RN directly as well. I guess that’s already happened since the RN tried to call me. I didn’t answer… most likely not helping my situation… That’s a problem for future me.

I can already hear Future Me bitching…

Present Me: You’re welcome. : D

I work with her Monday, mom. I’m dreading it and it’s only 7 pm. I’ve been off work for three hours and I’m already so ready to not go to work I’ve thought about quitting so I don’t have to be alone with this person.

I talked to dad, asking for his perspective as a manager. I’ve talked to Allison about it, too, since she was a high-level manager for a while.

They both feel I did the right thing for the right reasons. My FA is paid way more than me to take in information like this and to choose the best course of action. I am not responsible for what my FA does with the information. I am not responsible for how my coworker reacts to my FA’s choices.

But I work with her, mom. I might have just fucked everything up. Over gloves…

But it’s not the gloves that are the issue. The core of this whole thing is that taking something that isn’t yours is wrong. She wouldn’t have taken the gloves if she had been working with my FA instead of me, so why was it ok today? If I would have gotten in trouble for it, why would she think she’s above the same expectations? Is it because I’m just a PCT? Because I never say anything? Because I wouldn’t “snitch”?

Is this snitching? We’re in a pandemic and supplies are back-ordered and we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and you’re taking the supplies we need for our patients. You’re stealing from our patients. We NEED those supplies to ensure we maintain proper infection control during their procedures. What happens if gloves become an issue?

Should the pandemic thing even matter? At the root of it all, you said you wouldn’t take supplies and you did. You lied. You stole.

As employees of the company, we are mandated reporters for stuff like this. If it had been found out that this happened, and I knew about it, and I didn’t do anything or report it, I’m not exempt from consequences. If someone saw me doing something wrong, they are expected, mandated, to report it.

“It’s just gloves.”

That’s what keeps going on inside my head right now, mom. It’s just gloves. I get it. It can seem dumb when you focus on the object rather than the action. It was theft. Blatant. Intentional. As if I didn’t matter; didn’t exist. As if my words wouldn’t invoke reactions and consequences. As if my own moral character didn’t matter.

My life is going to suck at work for the next forever, mom. She’s going to out for blood. Everything I do is going to be wrong. Every break I take. Every time I step off the floor. Everything I do is going to have a flaw in her eyes.

It was the right choice for my peace of mind. It was the wrong choice if I wanted an easy life.

I guess that’s something… There are all sorts of quotes about the “right thing” being hard.

Right now I don’t feel like I have the inner resolve I need to be ok with my choice. I know it was the right one to make; more for myself than anything. Stealing is wrong. I couldn’t not say something regardless of what the item was and be ok with myself.

But actions of reactions. The reaction to my action of informing is that I have made my coworker’s life harder and she, in turn, is going to be resentful and potentially take it out on me by fostering a negative work environment while we’re together.

That is the consequence of the choice I made.

So I guess that’s where my issue comes in; where my resolve falters. This is where the confusion is and so maybe I don’t have the words I want or need to express it right.

Why am I worried about how she’s going to act? She can act however she wants. Am I going to let her attitude change wanting to be at MY clinic? Am I going to let her mess with my own attitude? Am I going to give her power over my emotions? Does she deserve that power?

No. No one does. My emotions are my own. I may not control them, but I exist with them, alongside them, and if I take the time to understand them, sometimes I can persuade them to change and to see another perspective.

I remained true to myself and to my own standards which happen to be in line with the company’s core values and our code of conduct.

I DID do the right thing.

Sometimes the right thing and the hard thing are the same thing.

I don’t know, mom. I don’t think I really figured anything out, but I don’t feel as anxious anymore. I’m not as worried about Monday. I’m not as worried about her life or how I may or may not have messed it up.

Stealing is wrong. It doesn’t matter that it was gloves. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t a whole box of gloves. Either you’re allowed to take them or you’re not. There isn’t a gray area. There aren’t situational exceptions here. That’s one of the positive things about policies and procedures. They remove the gray, nebulous, opinion-based judgement calls. They make things black and white, for better or for worse. They give us something to use as a standard for ethical and professional behavior.

I know I did the right thing, mom. Now to fight the good fight; the one in my head. I’m not going to back down from my choice to inform. If I did the morally right thing then I have nothing to be ashamed of or regret.

Letters to Mom 026: Graduation Day


Today has been a day full of events, mom.

I graduated from my leadership class today. One day after the three year five month mark of your death. I know the halfway mark is coming up. It’s eating at me, building inside me. I know I’m letting it but I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know how to not think about it or be aware of it.

I know on the outside graduating from this class might not seem like much of an accomplishment, but it signifies the end of an obligation I agreed to. I finished something. I stuck it out to the end. That hurts. Completion hurts. People were/are happy for me. My FA gave me a hand made gift with my personal credo on it. I got an amazing sweater. There was a plaque created with all sorts of words used to describe me from my fellow classmates.

I found out that I’m going to be writing an article about my journey with the company so far; an article which will be published in the Tech Talk newsletter which gets sent to EVERY PCT in the company. A few thousand people are going to be reading about me in my middle of nowhere clinic.

I hurt right now, mom. I miss you. I talked about you in my “About Me” presentation that I had to do for this final class. I’ve been having anxiety over it for months, since the first class where we found out about this ending presentation. I knew I had to talk about you. Your death has been such a catalyst for everything in my life since that event. I couldn’t NOT talk about you.

I told my class at the beginning of my presentation that life is often much like a heartbeat. There are ups and then there are downs and that my presentation was going to have a really big down, but that it would get positive again and that I needed them to stay with me through the hard section because in the end, it did get better.

I told them about my most senior hobby, cross-stitching, and how you and mama taught me how to do it and that realistically I have been stabbing things for 20+ years. I told them about Jason and Jon and the relationship I have with them. I told them about you. About how you were an RN. About how you got sick and didn’t get better and how I felt so lost after your death. I told them about how I started seeing a therapist because I knew I wasn’t equipped to handle everything that was going on in my life.

I talked about how I eventually found what I wanted my purpose to be; helping others and how DaVita was the first company to give me that chance. I talked about how in a mere two and a half years I’ve grown from absolutely no experience to being a PCT2 expert cannulator, the VAM for my clinic, a DSS graduate, PCT Advisory Committee member, and a future preceptor who is attending nursing school with a tentative goal of becoming a clinical coordinator.

I’ve come a really long way, mom. I know you’re proud of me. Thank you, for everything. For loving me. For listening to me. For supporting me. For believing in me.

I’m trying to believe in myself. I’m trying to be patient with myself. Understanding. Empathetic.

I’m allowed to feel sad when I accomplish things. I’m allowed to let sadness have its time; its moment. It’s allowed to be part of the journey and process.

I’ll try to be better tomorrow, but I don’t think I’ll really start feeling better until the weekend. Tomorrow I work. I have to be around people. This weekend I don’t have to. I can be alone and sad and work through all of these emotions that I haven’t really been able to because I keep myself too busy with Life.

I love you, mom. I just wanted you to know that, and to know that I did another thing. I took another step forward and I’m glad I did even though right now it hurts. I’ll talk to you again soon. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to do it without tears.

Letters to Mom 025: Remembering to Love


Hey mom,

I should have known tonight would be a sleepless night. It’s midnight. I have class, my first one of the LPN program, at 8 AM, which means I need to be leaving here around 6:30 AM which means I should be waking up around 5 AM to make sure I’m showered and packed and ready to go.

That means if I fall asleep right now, this instant, that I would get five hours of sleep. It’s not going to happen. I would rather write to you instead.

A lot has happened in a short amount of time.

I worked a billion hours the past two months or so. I’m glad that stint of my life is over. I took a vacation to see Jon. It was nice. I saw Mother Earth and Sir while I was there. We played a new game called Red Flags. I think you would have liked it.

Jon and I talked a lot while I was there. We talked about you. We talked about the fights we had at the hospital while you were there. We talked about our grief and how each of us feels about it. He’s worried that I’m stagnating and not “moving on”. He thinks that because I talked about how your birthday still hurts me. How significant events, important days, still deeply hurt and make me cry.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe I should be “better” or whatever, but I’m not and I’m ok with that. I want your birthday to hurt. I want it to mean something to me. I want all of those days that are connected to you to still mean something because otherwise, it will feel like I’m losing the last bit of you that I still have.

I got sick while I was on vacation. To the point where Sunday morning, after flying back to Nebraska, I was coughing so hard so frequently that I started coughing up trace amounts of blood. I went to an urgent care facility but they wouldn’t see me when I described what was going on. They said that I needed to go to the ER. So I did. Ox drove me. He stayed with me the whole time. I had to have chest x-rays done. I had to have labs drawn. They gave me two breathing treatments while we waited on results because my lungs sounded so awful.

In the end, they diagnosed me with bronchitis and sent me home with an inhaler and steroids to take for five days. I sent a message to work to let them know I wouldn’t be able to cover my shift Monday due to what was going on. I don’t feel bad about it. In a year and a half I’ve called in once and I was literally in the ER.

The online portion of classes unlocked today. Since I stayed home from work I did a bunch of that stuff. It kept me busy while Ox was at work. We met in Lincoln for lunch. I tried a new soup at the Chinese place we like on Sunday after the ER visit. We had time to kill before my prescriptions were filled and I needed to try to eat something since I’ve been eating relatively poorly since Thursday. Something about my body trying its damnedest to kill me just ruins my appetite. Much lame.

Anyway, they had a seafood soup that sounded interesting. I tried it and really liked it. So much so that I asked to go there again today so I could have it for lunch. I only ate half, but that meant I had a snack later. It’s definitely a nice change of pace from the chicken broth and grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve been eating. Ox does make some pretty amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, though. Definitely not slumming it.

While we were in town, Ox and I went to Barns and Noble to look at Dungeons and Dragons books. That’s something that Jon and I did while I was in Florida. We played D&D a couple of times and it was so much fun. Ox and I looked into groups here around Lincoln and found one that meets Wednesday nights. We need to have our own books and dice, so that’s what we did today. We went and got the books we needed and the dice so we can play in a couple of days.

We’ll be able to game together, outside of the house, away from electronics. Maybe we’ll even make friends outside of work.

I don’t know why but I’m super looking forward to it even though I have yet to transfer my character information from Jon’s account to my own. There’s a website where you can keep track of your character information digitally. It’s pretty awesome and I know none of that really makes much sense to you, but I know if we were talking in person you would be smiling at my enthusiasm and happy simply for the fact that I’m happy and excited and looking forward to something.

And I guess that’s where things get weird and painful. I’m looking forward to things and it hurts. I’m kind of excited about my class and that hurts, too. I wrote posts for discussion boards and you weren’t here to proofread them. I’m having to explain all over again why I’m entering the medical field. I’m having to explain the situation we went through and how it affected me and why I feel so deeply about helping people.

I was laying next to Ox before I decided to get up and write. I was thinking about how he’s been so supportive of me over the last year and a half; how he’s been so supportive and kind while I’ve been sick. I remembered some of the conversations I’ve had with him. The ones where I said I felt like I didn’t love him the way he deserved to be loved and that I felt broken and didn’t know if I would ever be able to love the way I used to.

I do love him, mom. I wish you could meet him. I wish he could meet you. I know you want me to be happy. I remember one time, you and I were talking about pets. I think it was about Bonnie, our first cat. She was older than I was when she died. Eighteen years old. I was young. Hardly a teenager, if that.

You said something about getting another pet eventually and I didn’t understand. How could you get another cat? How could you replace Bonnie?

You explained that you weren’t replacing her. You had loved Bonnie as much as you could while she was alive. How could you deny another animal the same love and compassion simply because you hurt? How was it right to withhold something from someone else for something they had nothing to do with?

I know we were talking about pets, animals, and to some people that logic wouldn’t apply to humans, but I think I understand what you were saying back then. What you were really saying.

It’s not right of me to not love as deeply, as intensely, as passionately as I used to just because you died. I know it sucks. I know it hurts. Holy fuck, do I know how much it hurts and aches and tries to tear me apart still. I know how much I hate it and how I wish I could change it and have you still physically be a part of my life.

But at the same time, it’s not fair of me to deny Ox the level and depth of love and connection he deserves to have. The level and depth that I am able to give if only I would allow myself to give it. To accept that yes, one day one of us will die, and that will suck, horrifically suck, but that doesn’t make it right for me to not love in the now. To give that for as long as I can while we are together.

I think that’s what you would want me to do. To allow myself to love, fully, and to not deny the people in my life that simply because I hurt, or am worried about future hurt.

These are pretty heavy thoughts to be having seven hours before my first class, but there you go. Sometimes that’s just how life works I guess.

I miss you, mom. I miss you a lot. I think I’m going to try loving. Actually loving. Fully loving. Ox deserves that. The relationship I have with him deserves that. And I think, deep down, somewhere inside me, you deserve that. You raised me to be stronger than internal and emotional pain. You raised me to overcome things like this. To work through them and function past them. To learn from them.

I think I’m learning. It’s taking a while, and god does it fucking hurt, mom, but I think I’m getting there. One painful remembered lesson at a time.

I love you, forever and for always. Thanks for being my mom and for still being with me.

Musing Moments 136: Mother’s Day Reflection


I’ve been sick lately. This is the first time in about three weeks where I’ve had an extended amount of time off work to try to recover. The weather is finally turning warmer. The sun is out…

It’s been… nice… I’ve been able to sit on the front porch and stare out at green fields and blue skies and not feel this overwhelming crush to accomplish things. I don’t have demands on my time other than to rest and get better.

As I was sitting this morning / early afternoon, these words came to me. I don’t know why. I’m not really one for poetry, but that apparently doesn’t seem to matter to the Universe.

So here is my Mother’s Day Reflection, preserved in text for later years when maybe I’ll need to reread them.

It’s a few days past, I hope that’s ok.
Better late than never, the words you would say.

Sickness has come, slowly it goes.
Coughing out my lungs, maybe a part of my soul.

In these few days of silence, I’ve heard in my head,
All of the words I wish I had said.

So, yes slightly late and long overdue,
but here are my words this Mother’s Day to you.

Bright daylight sun and dark nighttime moon,
all universal truths are different without you.

Through green summer grass and white winter snow,
regardless of the time, my love for you grows.

Your presence is felt and yet physically missed.
It’s the strength you gave me that gets me through this.

This absence and longing; the horrific alone.
I know that you’re with me, even if you no longer answer the phone.

The promises I made after your last dying breath…
I’ve done my best to keep even in my deepest depths.

Food and showers, it’s a struggle to go on,
It’s been more than hard, mom, now that you’re gone.

Small steps towards accomplishment bringing pain so severe…
What’s the point in any of it when you’re no longer here?

Those words still cut at me while I cry myself to sleep,
but I made those promises and my promises I will keep.

So please know from here to where you are,
that Death can go fuck itself because it doesn’t matter how far.

The love which was given, the lessons you taught,
The person I am is a gift that can never be bought.

Through all of these words, I know one thing is true,
Forever and always a daughter I will be to you.

I love you mom. Happy Mother’s day.

Letters to Mom 024: Your Mother’s Day Card Sent to You with Love


Hey mom,

It’s mother’s day.

I think this day is hard for you, too. I don’t have proof of this. Nothing rational or logical. It’s just a random thought I had earlier today; a feeling deep in my chest where the ache of your death lives. I think you miss being here just as much as we all miss having you here.

Today has been a day. It’s been painful and heavy. It’s been overcast and cold and wet and dreary. It has been for a while. It makes me think that summer will never come.

I don’t know what else to really say. I miss you. I hope you’re having a good day where ever you are. I hope you know I’m thinking about you. I hope you know I love you and that if you were still here I would have called by now. I would have sent you flowers or a card or something; most likely a cross-stitch with hearts and a sappy message about how much I love you because I never felt like I could say that phrase enough.

Since I can’t send anything to you here on Earth, this is my mother’s day card for you. I hope it finds you. I hope you read it and that it let’s you know how much you still mean to me.

You are the best mom ever. EVAR! You’re my own personal super mom and I’m the luckiest kid, aside from Jason and Jon, to be able to say you’re mine.

Happy mother’s day, mom. Thank you, so much, for being my mom and for all the things you did for me while you were alive and for all the things you continue to do for me after your death.

I love you, great big bunches, forever and for always.

~ Your earth dragon who could, who did, and who still is

Letters to Mom 023: I Passed


Hey mom,

I passed my first test for Human Anatomy. I passed with a 95. Pretty awesome, huh? I bet you’re doing the I told you so dance. I bet you rolled your eyes every time I said, “I’m going to fail this class.”

It hurts. Passing my test sucks. I’m doing well and I want you to be here and you’re not. You’re still dead and I’m still not used to it and I still want things to be the way they were.

I think I’m getting better, though. I’m dealing with the hurt better this time. I’m writing to you sooner. I’m remembering that I can still talk to you even if it is sort of a one-sided conversation.

The hurt isn’t as paralyzing as it has been in the past. I don’t think that it hurts less. I think it’s more that I know what it feels like and so I’m able to function through it better. It’s still going to suck going to work tomorrow and having all of my patients ask me how I did and telling them and knowing that it isn’t you. I can’t have you sitting across from me or going to Moe’s to celebrate with me. And goddammit, I get so frustrated with myself for focusing on what I don’t have anymore.

I love you, mom. I miss you. I’m doing well and I’m trying really hard. I think I’m doing trying for today, though. I think I’m going to go curl up in bed after calling Ox and be sad for a little while.

I know it’s been three years, but hopefully, it’s still ok for me to have sad days and to feel sad over silly things like passing tests.

Thanks for listening to me. And thanks for all of the studying tips and tricks that you taught me growing up. I wouldn’t have passed this first test without them.

I love you, forever and for always.

Letters to Mom 022: Three Years Later


Hey mom,

It’s year three since you died. I still ache. I still hurt. I still miss you. Today started rough. Jon and I have talked twice already. It started out on the cold side and icky and overcast since it’s been raining so much.

Honestly, today started out kind of shitty. But it didn’t stay that way.

Ox got off work and called me. We talked for a little bit. We agreed to go into town for lunch. He drove home and picked me up so we could go in together. That gave me time to shower since I hadn’t done that yet.

The only things I had accomplished with my day before his phone call was waking up only to go back to sleep and eating breakfast bars. I didn’t have much to show for myself and it didn’t feel like I would for the rest of the day. Breathing, sitting, being made my body ache with effort much less actually doing any of the things I thought about.

I did get up and shower though. I started a load of laundry. I put my clothes away. As Ox and I were driving into town to get Chinese I looked up a recipe since Ox had mentioned he really enjoyed the smoked sausage in the jambalaya I made the other night. That led to making a shopping list and going to the grocery store before coming home.

I have a meal I’m looking forward to making for everyone. I switched the laundry and started another load. I’ve washed the spinach so it’s ready to use tonight. I plan to cross stitch in a bit and relax until making supper. I’m taking today off from school work since I’ve been doing really well in that regard so far.

I’ve started taking my nursing classes. Right now I’m doing Human Anatomy. I had a minor freak out Tuesday, wondering if I was doing the right thing and how I was going to retain all of the information, but I’m doing really well. I’m surprised at how much I already know and how easily the rest of the pieces are sticking in my brain.

I think you would be proud of me. I’ve figured out college all on my own this time. I’m moving forward with my life. I don’t know if it’s the right direction. I don’t know where I’ll end up since I don’t really have an end goal, but I still think that you would be happy that I’m doing something with my self, for myself.

It makes me wish we could have conversations. You took all of these classes already. Jon’s taken them already. I would be able to… I don’t know what… be part of that world with you. We’re all in the medical field now, but you’re not here so we can’t talk about it. It sort of sucks. It’s like I figured it out too late or something. I know that’s not true, but there’s a part of me that feels like I missed out on something I’ll never be able to get back. There was an aspect of your life you couldn’t share with me because I wasn’t there yet.

Being back in school is hard, emotionally. I think I’ll be fine with the classes themselves. I’ve figured out how best to study for the one I’m in. But just like with everything else, steps forward are hard. They’re heavy and this step is no different but I think I’m coping better.

I have another flower for you. Another rose to mark what this day means for us. I’m sorry you’re not here. I’m sorry it still hurts. I’m sorry I’m still sad and that I still miss you. I’m sorry I don’t write or talk to you as often as I feel like I should. I know you’re still with me though. I still see you in my dreams sometimes and I can still feel your arms around me, hugging me when it feels like I’m alone and that giving up would be easier than struggling.

Thank you for being with me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being my friend and my mentor. Thank you for being my mother.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.