Yesterday morning I began filling out "requests for leave" slips. I have a few dentist appointments coming up, so I put in for sick leave. I also knew I wanted to attend a Mass for a recently deceased friend that was scheduled for this morning, so I began to submit a request for four hours' personal time. That prompted me to question my personal time: in addition to sick and vacation time, we are given 8 hours' birthday time and 8 hours' personal time. A few years ago, the personnel policy was changed to require personal and b'day time to be taken by the end of the fiscal year (or lose it). My birthday is the end of November, and I usually take my b'day and personal day together, around Thanksgiving. However, when the policy changed, I missed taking my time by the end of the fiscal year...so last November (2008) I don't know whether I took my FY 08 or FY 09 days.... So I checked with our accounting coordinator... she would have to look it up... by the way, I asked, can you please give me a tally of my accrued sick and vacation time....? She was quick to oblige... I had 250 hours of vacation time.... the new policy also says, any time in excess of 240 hours is lost at the end of the fiscal year. What the heck, I said... so I put in for 8 hours' vacation time for today (it seemed silly to return to work on a Friday afternoon, anyway).
I had a nice chat with our finance director (who also handles HR). She's a very smart, very kind woman. She told me my priorties are all wrong. At the end of the day, she said, all of this work will still be here. If you get hit by a bus tomorrow someone else will come in and do your job. You need to put Michelle first. I surprised myself at how her comments brought me close to tears. Was it so obvious?! You only live once, she said. Do you really want to be on your deathbed, saying, 'I should have taken that vacation!' ?
This morning I attended a Mass of Christian burial for a woman who was 38 years old. She was killed in an auto accident. She had no spouse or children, but left a very close-knit family and a large network of friends. So sad. The irony, or incongruity came to light as I sat in the church, listening to the pastor talk about death of the body and birth of the soul. How our faith gives us birth to a new life. I heard the words, "you only live once." I heard the words, "everyone wants to go to Heaven, but noone wants to die." My mind said, "I want to die" before I had a chance to grab that thought and contain it. I am happy in my life, yet I know that there is happiness in the 'after' life. My mind wandered from the pastor's sermon. At 54, how have I lived this life? What lies ahead for me? Am I making the best use of this life I've been given?