The devil behind me

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By Wendy Hodge

It is a Friday, and it’s raining. Again. January has lasted at least two months now, and there is not a single holiday on the horizon. The winter blahs are knocking on my door. I’m putting up a good fight, but today is not going to be an easy day. A co-worker is moving on to a new job, and today is his last day. And he didn’t even ask my permission.
As much as I like rearranging furniture and traveling to new places, I am not a fan of change.
Knowing this is my work buddy’s last day is the kind of change that makes my heart hurt. He clocked in this morning and all I could think about was how this was the last time I would say good morning to him and hear his groggy, half-hearted reply. (He is not a morning person.)
After lunch today, there will be no more meals together. And when we call out “Byyyyeeeee!” in our sheep-like imitation at the end of the afternoon, that will be the last time I hear his voice ringing out through the office. I will miss his hearty laugh and his frequent beard grooming. I will miss his “That’s what she said” jokes and his unflappable manner.
One of our circle of work friends has made a farewell scrapbook with pictures of all of us from the last several years. There’s the time they pranked me and moved my desk right in front of the fax machine. And the night we all went out for drinks and ended up with a man down by the end of the night. There are ball gowns and tuxedos and zombie makeup and Game of Thrones costumes. There are Snap Chat filters and Facebook collages. So much laughter, frozen in place on the pages of a book. And on the inside back cover is my favorite quote from ‘The Office’ – “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” And that just about killed me.
Sigh.
There’s another change ahead. My best friend is moving to a new house. He and his girls and I have been house hunting. Empty boxes are stacking up, ready to be packed. They are all so excited. And I’m excited for them. I truly am. But I know there will be a day when we walk out of that house for the last time, and I will be sad to leave it behind. It’s the house where I fell in love with them all. We have laughed and cooked and binge-watched Netflix shows and cleaned and played and gotten to know each other within its walls. It is where I feel at home, and I will miss it.
Sigh.
And just now, an upset patient called the office and said some ugly things and called me a name and hung up on me. Because they missed their appointment. Six months ago.
Sigh.
And just like that, I can hear my grandmother saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” That phrase used to scare me when I was young. Was Satan actually standing in front of her? And why would you want the devil behind you where you can’t see him at all?? As an adult, though, I have learned the value of stating out loud your refusal to let whatever is bedeviling you stand in your way.
So today I will channel my grandmother Gussie and refuse to look at the gloomy January sky.
Instead, I will focus on the picture sitting on my desk of the sun sparkling on the Gulf of Mexico.
This weekend, I will tour more empty houses and pack boxes with my best friend and make more lovely memories to take with me to a new neighborhood. And today, at lunch, I will laugh and talk about all the embarrassing and silly talks my work friend and I have had and the crazy patients who make us want to cuss, and I will carry the sound of his laughter with me through the next months and years of working with a new co-worker. And I’ll keep the devil firmly in place behind me, right where he belongs.

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