Please Excuse Me While I Put On My Work Face (Part I): A Reflection


Last week was pretty intense. You would think it being a short week, with the holiday Monday, would have made it a breeze. Nope…opposite. So much going on both near and far. Allow me to chronicle 72 draining hours.

Tuesday morning I barely got settled into the office when I received a text from a former church member: “Just wanted to share with you the VERY SAD NEWS…”. She was informing me that a young lady from the congregation passed away. After the initial shock I thought to myself “she graduated from high school about two years ago…so that would have made her about 19…20?” (*Sigh*)

Wednesday morning I logged on to Instagram and the first thing I saw was the video of the Alton Sterling shooting. Despite telling myself to get off social media, I was looking throughout the day and night to see what folks were saying about the situation.

Oh and did I mention, while I was on social media I saw a son promoting a Go Fund Me account for his mother who had recently passed away. (*Long sigh*)

Thursday (should have learned from Wednesday to not start the day with social media) began with social media being on fire about the Philando Castile tragedy. My emotions were all over the place. I read my daily devotional…thoughts still racing. Turned to my John Coltrane station on Pandora to ease my nerves. But I still struggled to concentrate. I put on a podcast in the background of my work and found myself turning it off because that only worked for so long.

I decided it was time for an early lunch. I needed to regroup. So I went out to get something to eat. In a daze, I looked up to see a tall, well tailored Caucasian man bending down and reaching his arms out. A little girl was running into his arms to meet his embrace. Subconsciously I wondered “wow…will she ever have to worry about her dad being extinguished due to senseless violence by those who are employed to ‘serve and protect’ him?”. {Praying she never does.}

Yes, this could be seen as a generalization to some. It is humanly possible that this father too could face that situation. But as a Black woman in the aftermath of what had just happened within 48 crucial hours, I wasn’t buying the possibility. At least not that day. As raw and uncensored as those thoughts were, my aching heart was speaking louder than any logic my brain could pull together. And while I love, appreciate and value my brothers and sisters of all races, in that moment I escaped to the tunnel in my heart where a Black woman was on her knees curled in a ball weeping. She was hurting because she has a father…a Black man (unlike the happy little girl)…that she does have to be concerned about.

I ate lunch and having food helped. I took my food in the office, shut the door, dimmed the lights and watched a lighthearted YouTube video. I needed an escape in that moment. It reminded me of the first time I lost a loved one. I longed for normalcy in that initial mourning period. Was I experiencing grief again? Quite possibly.

The afternoon got better. Though my mind was still distant. I stepped out of the office to fill up my water bottle. A co-worker approached me to ask how a new office arrangement was working out. All I remember saying was “it’s good!” with a painted smile. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. My body was present, I was responding but my mind was just.not.there.

I could have jumped when it was time to go home. And not because work was bad or someone had upset me. But because my heart was broken, my mind was troubled.

I jetted out of the office, had small talk with a colleague in the elevator. When I got to my car I had a sigh of relief.

Finally…I could take off my work face…


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