Why can’t I say the right things?
This was a very stressful week, and yesterday was the worst of it.
One of our pharmacists, J, received a call on Thursday afternoon that her mother was severely ill and would probably die within the next four hours. She lives five hours from here, and the hospital is farther away still, so you can imagine the emotional turmoil that call created.
I spent most of yesterday on the phone, trying to cover J’s shifts for Friday evening and today. Occasionally, I would wish this hadn’t happened on a holiday weekend, at a store on the far outskirts of our district, where the Saturday shift is 12 hours instead of the typical 9. Of course I wish it hadn’t happened at all, and I’d immediately feel guilty for being so stressed over covering a difficult shift, when my mom is healthy and enjoying her vacation right now.
I worked out the coverage eventually, but even the solution was stressful. Two pharmacists switched to different locations, one took on additional hours, and another gave up his Saturday off. No one wanted to do it, but they all did. And so I feel bad about that, too. I couldn’t have done more, but I still feel bad.
Finally I can go home, and I actually have the holiday weekend off (if I were a pharmacist, I would have worked those shifts!). While I’m at the grocery store, J calls to say her mother has greatly improved, to everyone’s surprise and joy.
As we’re talking, I want to say the right things so badly. I want to say that I care, that I’m sorry this happened, that I wish I could do something for her; I want to be supportive and make her feel better. I end up saying all the wrong things. I’m awkward and unsure, and I respond in ways that make her re-explain things she’s already said. I’m sure she wishes she had just gotten voice mail. I wish she had just gotten voice mail.
I wish I could blame it on the day. I was still hyped up, distracted and unhappy that everything didn’t go smoothly. I am glad there is coverage, but it bothers me so much that it’s not to everyone’s satisfaction. But that’s not the reason I wasn’t able to say what I wanted to say…or anything even remotely good or comforting. It wasn’t the day, it was just me.
Why is it so hard to say the right things?