My Coworker Wrote a Letter for Me

And I didn’t know I needed it

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels

It isn’t often I get letters from people I care about and love, so when my coworker told me she’d written a letter for me, my heart lit up. She was self-conscious about letting me read it, reminding me I write and how it wasn’t written in a way I’m used to reading, but I had to tell her, “Don’t worry about that. This is from your heart. I will be happy just to receive it.”

And, I was. There is nothing that can hold a candle to someone sharing their heart with you — their overall concern for who you are and what you do. And to take it a step further — how you make them feel as a human being sharing this earth with them.

My coworker was vulnerable in this letter — baring all and making it known just how much she appreciates me. She let me know what she sees in me and how she has noticed my stumbles at work. They do not overshadow my strengths.

I see the love you have for Jehovah in your life and I deeply respect that about you. Also, I admire the compassion for people and your desire to be a force for change.

I know who I am

I do not question who I am and what I do or how I do it. But, at work, I am questioning how long I can do what I do and how I do it. I am drained and every part of me loud enough for anyone to hear is silencing itself. I used to say, “I am a people person,” but of late, this is running away from me. I am sick and tired of most people.

People are work — hard work, and there’s so much about us as a collective with which I am extremely exhausted from facing. The selfishness in the hard hearts of a few beings I encounter every week puts a foul taste in my mouth. It makes me not want to be in a position so closely connected to human beings.

Because of your compassion for people, you carry the burden along with love for the right thing.

I want so much for us as inhabitants of this world

I have it in my head that I can help change the hearts of my fellow brothers, sisters, and occupants of this world, but I am tasked with first knowing they must want to change. The depths of my soul yearn for us to be more loving, understanding, willing to work with each other for the overall betterment of this world, and to respect one another.

I feel defeated when I come across someone who flat out couldn’t care less about being a responsible member of humanity. The weight of it sits on my shoulders, seeps into my system, and layers itself into the recesses of my brain. Sometimes, I get physically ill from this.

My thought process is this: during a global pandemic, one should be willing to do what needs to be done in order to protect everyone. Many do not think this way.

I take more days off — especially mental health days because a large part of me recognizes coping with my job is much harder and there is no end in sight. It will not get any easier. The more I do what I do full-time, the more I wish to end this level of activity in healthcare.

These are stressful times, so we need to be there for each other no matter when or what.

A simple deed reminded me of the goodness in others

What this letter did for me is remind me I am not alone. My team — my friends see me and they know my worth. They acknowledge my struggles and are in tune with why those struggles occur. They care about my well-being and want to help make sure my sanity remains intact. They are sounding boards who will prepare a space for me, hold it, and allow me room to move in that space however I see fit.

You have become dear to me, and I need you to know you are a strong, kind, and caring person.

A letter showed me this: although my days are full of exhausting interactions with some of our nation’s most selfish beings, my efforts in dealing with them are not in vain. Someone sees how hard I am trying — how hard I have tried. And she took the time to put it in writing.

If you’re wondering how impactful your words can be for someone else; I’ll be the first to tell you, they can build you up when you have been torn down.

I needed this. I didn’t know it.


Originally published in C.R.Y. via Medium.

every year, fire comes . . .

Cloudy Sky
Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

every year, fire comes
it rages on–wind sifting
through funnel-shaped clouds
blazing through everything in its path
evacuations, a commonplace against
a raging blaze.

we watch them search, seize, and sever
ties with their homes, racing
death head on, this is nothing new,
yet the pain surges through us
knowing it will be the same
yet different.

and what has nature sucked into
its wanton arms?
hopes, dreams, and loves lost–
a crashing of fate, nuanced in
fear and dread.

next year, we must prepare . . .
for next year.

And Then, Death Comes

Pixabay

And we watch it as it leaves

As much as I believe I am prepared for death, I never am. I could have a head-start, running miles around it — fearless of losing, but — in rare and unadulterated form, it proves to me, I don’t know what I’m doing. I spent the last three months with my friend of twenty years, waiting while his father was dying. This, a man who has fought various forms of cancer and survived, had now succumbed to prostate cancer. My friend — the loving, kind, generous, and soft-spoken man he is — is calm. This is something for which he’s been waiting.

Waiting . . .
Waiting . . .

I’ve found myself grieving with him on so many levels, but I know my pain cannot match his. I knew his father from afar — applauded his love for his son and looked up to a man who had an undying passion and loyalty to his wife before she passed away. My friend, now a parentless child — has buried both of his parents within a few years. I asked him the other day, “Have you cried?” There was a pause — a few moments passed for the air to settle in the question and he said, “Not yet. It’s strange. I feel so calm.”

I find myself praying for his storm, that it doesn’t come when he doesn’t have the time to sit through it — to get wet from the downpour. But when you’ve waited and waited and waited for a death predicted to come sooner than it did, maybe there’s no storm? Maybe the storm was in the waiting.

“It’s strange, I feel so calm.”

He is a one-man show, my friend. He handled everything effortlessly, even communicating with his job about the leave he’d need to take and why. He found himself swatting down a few family members who want to tell him what to do, yet, they had no earthly idea of what he’d have to do — the pressure of it all, the pain. I can only be his sounding board. I have listened willingly.

We have waited for death and when he communicated his father’s passing to me, I still felt the ache — I still flinched from the pain. I wasn’t ready. He wasn’t either.


My mother’s childhood friend died on the morning of Friday, July 31, 2020, a few days after my friend’s father’s death. I was driving and called her to share how my dog’s vet visit went after not being able to take her this past April due to the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic. I had good news and she had bad news. At sixty-three, just four years older than my mother, her childhood friend died from the very thing we’ve been combating for nearly five months. She worked in a nursing home and contracted it from someone there.

She knew of the torture — how this strong and healthy woman failed over a short span of time, and she cried in a way I had not heard her do in what feels like years. “I’m glad I saw her when I did — glad I got the chance to see her smiling and happy before all of this.”

I mentioned I was driving — thankful for the Bluetooth syncing, I acknowledged the fact that I was going to need a moment. This was a woman whose mother kept me when I was young. I spent many days parading around Frazier Homes in Savannah, GA with my friends — her nieces and nephews — her family. I shook my head in disbelief. This is close to home, again. This is so close to home and as much as I wanted to listen to my mother as she cried about the loss of her friend, I didn’t want it to be true.

Had she told me of this a few months ago and it was some other God-awful way of dying, I would have found a way to soldier on through the drive, but an overpowering ache of sadness consumed me. Death doesn’t give us a time or date. It doesn’t make itself known in fancy little dresses or frilly patterns. It swoops in, ready to consume every fiber of our being and if we are not able to sustain throughout its reign, we will falter.

“I’m glad I saw her when I did — glad I got the chance to see her smiling and happy before all of this.”

My childhood friend, my mother’s childhood friend’s niece was who I needed to contact. We never have been the “sit-on-the-phone-and-talk” kind of friends, but we text each other regularly, making sure we’re both still braving this thing called life. I sent a text message to her, then I called before the weekend disappeared. I had to. It wouldn’t have felt right if I didn’t, not within me. I had to hear her voice, if only for her to say, “Girl, I can’t believe it” as I’ve read many times about those we know and have lost.

I had to leave a message.

I hate those text messages that come a few days before the phone call, but sometimes, as I am learning, they’re actually preferred. My friend’s response to the text message, “Girl, it’s all just too much right now. I love you” hit me in the gut. “It’s all just too much right now.” Her family is a tower. I told her this. I have never seen a more close-knit family ever in my life and they will all get together and whoop someone’s ass if they needed to. I was happy to have grown up around such strength, loyalty, and camaraderie — especially in the face of evil.

My mother’s side of the family is like this as well, but aside from her mother and sister and a few of my cousins, I didn’t spend much time around them. Something about not wanting us to see too much violence, but for various other reasons, we still witnessed it within and outside our home.


I know of death. I smell its stench whenever it is near. I know of the way it sneaks in greedily and eager to devour the souls of the dying. I sat with it as I watched my great-grandmother lose her mind, then her life. All the waiting, all the preparing and getting things “just right” are not enough for you to be ready when you need to be.

Death comes and the only thing you can do is watch it when it leaves.


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When the Night Barks

And love has no bite

Photo Credit: Luis Quintero via Pexels

If I had a magic wand, my life would not include me saying the following statement multiple times a week: “No, I am not taking any visitors at this time. Due to my line of work, it’s best that I do not.” For those of you who do not know, I am a Patient Access Specialist turned Screener for an imaging facility. My transitional position, due to the Coronavirus COVID-19, places me front and center in surveying patients and taking their temperatures prior to entering our waiting areas. I screen anywhere from one hundred twenty to one hundred eighty-five people per day with a low to moderate percentage of exposure to the virus.

Some family members get the importance of my refusals to their requests, others want to test the waters of me and see how far they can take their reach without me blocking it or shutting it down. I am not one who likes repeating herself but for this, I make sure I am loud and clear.

I will miss out on a few opportunities for gathering with family this summer and it is because I have to take every precaution to ensure my safety and the safety of others. My health is important. I want to be sure it remains intact for the foreseeable future.

I have brothers, cousins, uncles, and aunts who want to visit from various Coronavirus, COVID-19 hotspots across the nation and in my mind, all I can think is, “Why would you want to visit me while we’re in the middle of a global pandemic? Why do you think I want you to?” Politely declining family gatherings and visitations is becoming my forté but I have no regrets. At least, not right now.

But how will I feel when the night barks and love has no bite? What will I do when the yearning for a hug becomes the one prayer I lend to God religiously? Am I strong enough? Will my defiance of running toward “some sense of normalcy” get the best of me? Only time will tell.

Right now, I am in avoidance mode and for several reasons. I cannot, in good faith, slack off in any way on the methods of survival and remaining virus-free if I give in to the simple requests of others.

To an unbearable extent, everyone is antsy. They’re ready to experience life the way they knew it to be Pre-Coronavirus days, but I am faced with the reality of its deadliness every single day and I am in no rush to gain a life back that does not have what I mostly need from it.

I have had the ungodly task of living through sixteen days wrought with worry while a co-worker panted through the depths of Hell and came back from a rigorous bout with said virus and the last thing I want is to be in his shoes. No, thank you.

It breaks my heart to not be able to see, spend time with, and share in the love of my beautiful family, but I love them enough to know I am bad for their health and to keep myself away from them regardless of their pleas. I love them enough to want them to live through this phase of life, come out unscathed, and tell the story of it.

The night does pull at me and oftentimes, I haven’t the strength to conquer it. A few loud barks from its deep voice doesn’t scare me. I don’t even flinch.

But, I will be completely transparent, it’s the absence of the vastness of love and all versions of it I miss the most. It is the intensity of a thing I’ve forced myself to believe I want more than breathing. I want to live through this pandemic and share stories of it with the same loved ones pressing me to open up my door and let them in.

Will I lose their admiration and perhaps the closeness we’ve had over the years? It is a possibility. But, I’d rather keep the potency of love in its full form in my heart than run the risk of losing its bite.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

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“You Must Watch CNN!”

How a Racist Patient Tried to Ruin My Day and Failed.

Photo by Clay Banks via Unsplash

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, I was at my screening station doing the part of my job I have learned to love as much as I dislike it and things were going smoothly. I had only one incident of a patient who waltzed into our doors not wearing a mask and tried to quick-step past me to get into one of the waiting areas. I stopped her, advised her of the sign on the building’s doors that begins “This is a mask-requirement facility”, and offered her a mask. She declined it — stated she would not wear one. I obtained her name, the exam for which she was scheduled, and informed her she could either reschedule (by calling our scheduling department) for a later date or comply with the regulations. She chose the former.

Later on in the day, an elderly patient came for a procedure but brought her slightly older husband with her. We are currently on a “No visitor rule” of which many of our patients are made aware prior to scheduling and entering the building, however, some people forget or just want to test the waters. This patient knew the regulations but had her husband drive her. She said to me, “Baby, I know y’all ain’t letting anyone else in the building, but please, can my husband sit in here until I am done?” Now, I was raised to respect, love, and take care of my elders. Of course, I was not going to let an eighty-eight-year-old man sit in his car on one of the hottest days in June so far, while his wife had services rendered.

I obtained one of the chairs from our waiting area, sat it about ten feet from the entrance, and made sure he was comfortable. I screened both him and his wife and he sat with me in the foyer while I continued to do my job. While screening another patient, I could see a White, heavy-set, angry-looking male approaching our doors. He did not have on a mask. He would enter the building without one. I asked my patient to give me just a moment, put on some gloves, and met this young man at the door, greeted him, and gave him a mask and asked him to please put it on. He did not. Instantly, in my head, I said, “Oh, this is going to be interesting.”

I finished with my patient, asked the young man to please approach me, but put on his mask first. This is what followed:

Patient: “I would rather not.”

Me: “Okay, sir. It’s totally up to you what you would like to do, however, this is a mask-required facility, so no mask, no service.”

Patient. “You must watch CNN.”

Me: “I watch whatever is going to make me knowledgable about the events around me, sir. Now, we are going to begin your screening process. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

Patient: “Everything is NO NO NO NO & NO!”

Me: “I will log it in my memory bank that your answers will be no, sir, but I still have to ask the questions.”

I proceeded to ask him the screening questions, each of them already previously responded to, so I moved through them hastily. It was when I got to the last question that his entire demeanor shifted and his anger became even more concerning.

Me: “Thank you. Do you mind if I take your temperature?”

Patient: “Yes!”

Me: “Sir, are you refusing to have your temperature taken?”

Patient: “Yes, I am!”

Me: “Okay, sir. You will turn around and exit the building for not cooperating with the screening process. We will call you at a later time to get you rescheduled. Please have a great day.”

This guy rips off his face mask, kicks our doors open, and starts shouting expletives as he’s leaving — loud enough for everyone in the foyer and our two waiting areas to hear him. One of the sentences being, “Ain’t no fucking Coronavirus, this is fucking ridiculous!” Now, bear in mind, I still had the eighty-eight-year-old man waiting in the foyer with me and by this time, two more women were waiting to be screened as well. One lady witnessed the entire exchange, the other came in on the tail-end of it. The lady who witnessed everything; White, heavy-set, and peaceful-looking, was next and I called her up to begin the screening process.

Me: “How are you doing today, ma’am?”

Nice Patient: “I am doing good, baby. I can tell this ain’t your first rodeo and I want to tell you that you handled that very well. Some people are just ignorant.”

Me: “Thank you, ma’am. I appreciate that. Do you mind if I ask you a few screening questions?”

Nice Patient: “You go on ahead and do what you need to do.”

I completed the screening process with her and apologized to her for witnessing what transpired and she quickly informed me I had no need to apologize but she thanked me just the same. I made her aware I would have to contact my center manager to explain the situation and asked if it would be okay to give her name just in case they want to contact her. She assured me she would be helpful in any way she could and agreed to me giving her information to our center manager. I walked over to the elderly man waiting and made sure he was okay. I apologized to him for having to witness the debacle and he said “You don’t need to apologize to me for a thing. I knew he was going to be trouble when I saw him walking towards the building.”


Photo by Clay Banks via Unsplash

With everyone safe, screened, and sent to their respective waiting areas, I began to contact two of the modalities and my center manager. I keep my cell phone in the foyer with me as I have the direct phone numbers for each modality so we can communicate quickly and effectively about our patients. I contacted our Open MRI modality as the angry patient was scheduled for their scanner, explained the situation, and informed them our front desk was asked to please cancel the patient’s appointment for “Failure to comply with screening protocol.” I contacted the Mammogram department as their waiting area is the same as our Open MRI, so they could be aware — this is a person who could have potentially been waiting with others for their exams.

With those two modalities informed, I began to send my center manager a Microsoft Teams message. I explained the entire situation in full detail — making her aware the patient was far away from the facility and everyone who needed to be contacted had been so. Her response was, “Are you okay? Is everyone safe? Is anyone hurt?” I informed her I was fine, a bit shaken up, but otherwise okay and no one was hurt. She began her research on the patient and informed me she would speak with our Chief Tech in the morning who had taken the day off.

There was no, “Let me take a moment to collect myself” or “I am scared as hell, but I won’t let him see it.” I had to keep things moving regardless of what happened because other patients are a priority and their care is my concern. My team’s safety is my concern. This is simply another incident occurring living while Black and I am used to maneuvering through life simply for survival’s sake. I operate in peace on most days, however, I am stern in my explanations of our process while being tactful. I have a cheerful disposition, but please do not mistake this for weakness. If provoked — as in, if you lay your hands on me, I am not a stranger in having to cold punch you in your throat. I will do so if I have to. I do not want to.

Word traveled quickly throughout our facility and soon, my coworkers came out, one by one (up to six of them), to tell me how much they love me and are happy I am there doing what I do. One said, “I want to hug you so badly right now and I know I can’t.” I knew I needed that hug and I welcomed it. She held me and I could feel the tears starting to form in my eyes and I quickly gathered them and said to her, “I want to cry, but I am not going to. I cannot do anything about racists and their behavior. I can only do something about my reaction and he will not steal my joy, but I don’t want to die here.” She squeezed me and said, “I love you. We all love you. We have your back. You aren’t going to die here.”

At work, I am called, “The Sheriff,” “Top Flight Security,” “Drill Seargeant,” and “The Bouncer.” These are all names my coworkers have given me as they state I am meticulous in how I run our foyer, our waiting areas, as well as how I interact with my team. Plainly put, I get things done. Many of them, on various occasions, say “I don’t worry about a thing if you are out there screening our patients.” Regardless of what I encounter on a daily basis, I can look to the people I share the facility with for eight to ten hours a day and know they will come to my aid.

The next morning, Friday, June 12, 2020, the Chief Tech came to my station and said, “Tre, I want you to know I have called the referring physician’s office, spoken with his office manager, and gave her the details of the incident from yesterday. They were informed that we do not tolerate that type of behavior here and he will not be able to have his scans done in the future. I am sorry you had to experience that. I really am.”

I thanked her. I am grateful for people who are actually standing on their word. You can tell me what you are going to do or how you are going to do things, but I will tell you right now, loose lips do not provide me any service. You have to show me where you stand in order for me to believe you. Our staff has shown me, is showing me, and this, during a time of great turmoil, is a blessing.

As the day came to an end, my center manager checked on me once again. She made sure I had everything I needed and informed anyone with free time to relieve me whenever I needed to step away. She said something I truly do not want anyone to ever feel they have to say to me: “I wish I could be in your shoes for just one day, so I can know what this feels like.” I stopped her. It wasn’t her first time saying it and I know it’s a way of wanting to know — wanting to feel what I feel — I told her once again . . . “You do not want these shoes. I am Black every single day. I know how to carry what I carry. Everyone isn’t equipped to deal with this.” Her eyes teared up as did mine and I thanked her once again for allowing me room to vent and standing alongside me.

Knowing what I know at my place of work, I feel less alone, but I still am.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

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