Posts Tagged ‘feelings’


“But How Do You Feel?”

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality

Well, the layoff finally took place last Friday. It really hasn’t registered in my head just yet; since it was at the end of the regular work week, it’s felt more like an ordinary weekend the past two days. The coming morning will certainly change all that. I sat down and did some simple math this past afternoon… since I graduated from high school in 1980, I have been totally unemployed a total of one week. Yes, that’s right – one week in over 35-1/2 years. That one week was in 1987 between leaving my co-op student job at IBM and starting a temp job at Coca-Cola. I surprised myself with that one. While I’ve been looking for another position since I was notified about the layoff, it’s going to take on an entirely new meaning for me starting tomorrow.

The first question people have asked me, and continued to ask all through the past two weeks is, how do I feel about what’s happening? That’s a fair question, but it seems so cliche at the same time because it’s usually the “only” question anyone seems to want to hear. Why is that? I suppose it’s because people want to find some sort of connection with the person being questioned, some way of sharing the emotions of someone who may be a total stranger but for that one thin line of feeling. I don’t really have a desire to establish emotional connections to people I may have never met before; to me, most emotions are personal – something to be shared with family and close friends who won’t take them and twist them around or use them in some distorted way for their own amusement or personal gain.

But for those who are still curious, let me respond with the message I sent to my manager and as many of my now-former co-workers as I could on my last day (the subject line of my e-mail was “Happy Trails”, and I’ve removed the name of the company to avoid any conflicts):


In less than an hour, I will be walking out of the Plano office for what may be the last time. Before I do, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank each of you for the support and the good wishes I have received regarding the end of my position with ___ and the hopes for my future. I have no bitter feelings over the decision that was made, and I will be leaving the same way I arrived – with a smile.

I have to say it’s been quite a ride over the years, but it’s been made all the more pleasant and memorable thanks to the people I’ve been honored to work with. There are many more co-workers I wish I could include here, but most of them have already moved off to other places. If you happen across any of them, please pass along my best wishes.

I still don’t know yet where I will be going or what I will be working on next; I will continue to check for available internal openings as long as I’m allowed, while searching elsewhere as well. My hope is to land on my feet quickly and continue my career, be it with another group in ___ or elsewhere. Any suggestions or leads you might come across would be appreciated.

Will our paths cross again? I would like to think so. But in case they don’t, or you’re just wanting to chat a bit about how things are going, here’s how you can reach me:

[here I listed my personal contact information]

In closing, again I wish to say “thanks for the memories” and I look forward to hearing from you again in the future.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out what my feelings were at the time.  And when you do, there’s no need to share – you’ll spoil the fun for everyone else! LOL

This is the day I said goodbye
This is the day you reached out to fly;
This is the day I let go of your hand
This is the day you alone would stand.

This is the day I wanted to weep
This is the day you were laid down to sleep;
This is the day I felt ever so numb
This is the day you showed me how to be strong.

This is the day I will never forget
This is the day you taught me to feel no regret;
This is the day I felt so much love
This is the day you shined down from above.

This is the day I said goodbye.

We can find it everywhere – the bright Christmas lights, ornately decorated Christmas trees, radio stations playing Christmas music, and of course the Christmas sales on gift items we would not pay any attention to buying the other 11 months of the year. The countdown began after Thanksgiving, leading up to a day that is filled with great joy and excitement.

Like most people, I usually look forward to the Christmas season each year: spending time with family, exchanging gifts and good cheer, sharing old memories and making new ones, and reflecting on the year that has nearly passed. This Christmas, however, will be very different. In spite of my best efforts, I know the good cheer will be more somber, the memories bittersweet, and the reflections more contemplative. I suppose this is to be somewhat expected; the memories of Stephen’s accident are still very fresh in my mind and still weigh heavily on my heart. I doubt there has been a waking hour in the past six months when I have not thought about my son.

There are some friends of mine who seem simply amazed that I can function at all, and cannot imagine themselves being as “strong” as I have been in this situation. If the truth be told, I do not look at myself as a strong person; I may appear calm, cool, and collected on the outside, but if you could look into my heart and mind you would find I am a total wreck. My wife has commented that she has not seen me crying openly for our son, as she has been doing; what she does not understand is that on the inside I have not stopped crying since the day he died.

What is it that keeps me going forward? I believe it has been because of the need for “someone” to make sure that all of the things that needed to be done on Steve’s behalf were actually done. From making sure all of the funeral arrangements and details were covered, to handling all of the paperwork, and to being the “voice” of the family, I have focused on each task and given it my utmost attention and effort.

The last of those tasks is soon to be completed – we have received word that the monument for Stephen’s grave is finally finished and will be installed sometime within the next few days. What will happen to me after that is done? Will I still be “strong” or will I collapse into a blob of uncontrollable emotion? Or something in between? I do not know for sure, but I will find out soon enough.

In the meantime, the Christmas countdown continues…


Mixed Days And Negative Feelings

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality

October has been a busy month of anniversary days and feelings to match.

On the 1st I celebrated my 10th anniversary of working for Hewlett-Packard. Well, sort of. Back in 2000 I left Coca-Cola to accept a job with Bank of America. I was with the Bank for a little over two years, and then they decided to outsource my job to Electronic Data Systems (EDS). EDS was very gracious and rolled over my service time with the Bank. About five and a half years later EDS merged with Hewlett-Packard, and again my service time was rolled over. So, while 2010 technically marks my 10th service anniversary with HP, I have physically worked for them only two years. It seems strange to think that my time keeps getting rolled over from one company to the next…what would have been nice is if back in the beginning Bank of America had counted my time worked with Coca-Cola (about 12-1/2 years); then I would be in my 22nd year with HP instead of my 10th. But, it really would not mean very much in the long run…to recognize my “special day” my manager wished me a happy anniversary and I received a certificate (via e-mail) from the CEO of the company thanking me for my years of work. It felt somewhat underwhelming for the occasion, but given the state of the business world these days I am grateful to have a job.

Last Friday (the 15th) was another sort of anniversary, marking four months having passed since Stephen’s accident. I no longer count the weeks; they are becoming too numerous to keep up with. I will probably stop counting the months as well once the first year or two has passed. It reminds me a lot of when he was born…first we counted his age in days, then weeks, then months until he was about 2, and then we counted years after that. It feels strange that once again I am counting time like this for one of my children; I had not expected anything like that to happen until my children started having their own babies sometime in the far future.

Today is yet a different anniversary – my 48th birthday. It is another year older for me, which I really do not mind at this point in my life, but it is also another “first” because Stephen is not here. I am sure my wife and younger son will do something special this evening to celebrate and my friends will offer their best wishes throughout the day, all of which I greatly appreciate, but I am certain I will still feel somewhat empty inside because Steve isn’t here.

Underwhelmed, strange, and empty – all negative feelings, even for the days that should have been positive. I do not know what significance, if any, could be tied to that. Any thoughts?


19 and (Still) Growing

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality, Yesterday's Memories

Tomorrow is my daughter’s 19th birthday. It’s the first year she will be celebrating it away from my home and the rest of our family. She will be with friends, who I’m certain will make sure she has an enjoyable day, and there is a remotely possible chance that her mother and I may get to speak to her for a few minutes.

This occasion has given me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am sorrowful she will not be around to celebrate the day with us; on the other, I am proud to see her trying to move forward and trying to be more like the adult she has become. But, being proud of her doesn’t mean I have to like all of her choices; in fact, I’m not pleased with most of the ones she has made over the past six months or so (on which I will not elaborate here, other than to say she has chosen to take up permanent residence elsewhere). However, I do respect the fact that she is being the independent young woman we tried to raise, and she is making her own choices.

As a result, she is also learning what it truly means to live with the consequences of her actions. Because she has chosen to live elsewhere she is no longer considered a member of my household; among other things, this makes her ineligible for medical coverage through my employer’s health plan, and she must get her own policy. The same is true with her car insurance (she doesn’t own a car, but she is both licensed and living in a household that has one, and under Texas law she must have coverage or she gets points put on her driving record). On top of it all, at last word she did not have a job, so it’s uncertain to me how she plans to pay for any of that. It’s hard for me to know whether or not she has taken care of all these things; she has communicated very little with any of us in the last few months. But, from what I do know about her character as I watched her grow up, I am certain she will stick with it until she has everything worked out.

There have also been changes in the rest of my family as a result of her decisions. One of my sons spends a lot of his time in her old bedroom, where his computer is now set up on her old desk. Financially, I have one less mouth to feed (although my sons are quickly filling that gap), and there will be one less dependent to claim when my wife and I file our taxes next year (this is a fairly fresh one on my mind since yesterday was Tax Day). It’s also one less person for me to worry about taking to the doctor when she’s sick, or the dentist when she has a cavity, the eyeglass shop when she needs new contacts, or the pharmacy when she needs medicine. All of that burden is on her now.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, all of this change has hurt me greatly. I’ve tried my best to put it all in perspective by looking back at when I was her age, but the comparisons aren’t quite the same. Aside from the obvious difference in gender, when I was 19 I was living away from home as well, but my parents had been divorced for about 18 months and my three brothers were split up living with one parent or the other; my family today is intact and all living under one roof. She has had tremendous financial support for her college education; I was working two jobs and paying for my college classes out of my own pocket. Any way I cut it, it’s just not the same situation.

I don’t know if she will ever read this blog, but if she does I hope she comes to realize how difficult it is for me to watch as she heads down this road, knowing what lies ahead but unable to get her to believe, or even listen, to my experience-filled voice. It had been my hope that I could have helped her avoid going through the School of Hard Knocks, but it appears she decided to go there anyway. I have come to conclude that it must be a rite of passage for all of us at one time or another, and the cycle will likely repeat itself when she becomes a parent and her children head out into the world.

I do know that she’s very bright and very deep-minded, and I believe someday she’ll figure out what I was trying to tell her now, and come back and say “you were right.” I just hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

Happy Birthday Michelle!