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Does life settle down after being placed in companies like TCS, Infosys, etc.?
In a few hours, I will be completing my 13th year in Infosys, my first and only employer. Last year when I checked, from my training batch of 120+ freshers, a little more than 12 of us were still with the company. Even if we are with different employers and some of us have become employers too, I feel all of us have settled in some aspects, looking to settle in some and still unsure where are we heading in rest of the aspects. Let me touch upon few of them.SettledFamily: After working in many offices of Infosys and clients throughout the world, I am in my hometown, Bhubaneswar, which happens to be my base location. I got married to my friend from Engineering college who went on to become my boyfriend and then husband in later years. I stay with my in-laws and my father stays very close to me. Our kid is in a school where we wished her to be and is blessed with constant love and care of her grandparents.Foreign Trip: No one in my family ever travelled out of country until I did, for my first on-site trip. And that was my first flight too. Needless to mention, I was super happy then.Friends: I am happy that this city being a hometown of almost all my school and college friends, I get to meet them whenever they visit home. Cousins too are assured that we (me and my husband) are closer to their parents and can rely on us for emergencies, if any. I am in a way very thankful to the authorities who decided 20 years back that Bhubaneswar should be the place for Infosys DC in the east.Work Experience: Here I don't mean work experience in terms of number of years but experience in literal sense. I had both good and bad experiences but in long run all bad ones now seem to be important lessons. They have shaped me the way I am. I got to work with people in their late 50s who knew so much and knowingly and unknowingly passed on their wisdom while working. Because one needs to cater to business demands, which can be challenging, I got to know of my abilities, I never knew I had. Trained in Java, I had to work on Message Brokers & messaging queues, on getting into production. I know I would have cursed myself then, for getting into that project, but now I know my ability. Eventually, I have discovered what I am really good at. And I am also sure now that there are other unexplored domains in IT that I can take up confidently, if needed.I got to volunteer in various activities, a way to give back to society. I get immense happiness when I see my efforts in this regard taking shape and reaching people.Other than this there are stuff like a car, a home, personal abroad trip, which I am happy about as well.Yet to settleSalary: One of the demerits of staying with a company for long is that the growth in terms of money earned gets slowed. I am not starving but honestly I would like to earn more to be able to do some things that I wished to.Promotion: A mix of my inefficiencies and kind of people I worked with has to some extent denied me the designation I could have had. Cannot blame the organization because, when employee strength is close to 2 lakhs, you are bound to come across a heterogeneous mix of people who evaluate your performance according to their own yardsticks. I am yet to settle in this department.There are other things work wise that I do not see myself settled in yet.UnsureThese are those things that have put me in dilemma and questions like “Should I?” “Let’s wait” “When?” etc…I still get offers for on-site assignments when I look to move to different assignments. While I do want to explore other countries, I know I am not sure of I really should go for them, unsettling the things that are set now.I am entitled to avail sabbatical and I desire to go for it. I also want to do pursue a full time MBA. But that would unsettle a few more things in my life.I want to reskill myself to be able to work on newer upcoming cool stuff these days. Got self trained via online tutorials, but unsure if I would get a real time work exposure on them.I am fascinated by entrepreneurship and have ideas bubbling in my head. I am unsure if I will ever be able to proceed with that.Well, the crux is that whatever organization you are with, no one is ever settled. My mother was with a PSU and my dad in a Government job, both profiles perceived in the “settled” category. But I have seen both of them having a certain amount of “restlessness”, the discomfort of being unsettled in some aspects and that keeps people driving.That restlessness is a must, I feel… NoUpdate 1: I got a question from Jay Nayak in the comments and I felt, it would be useful for some. It is regarding getting employed in preferred work location.Q: Mam would like to know what could be done from an IT employee perspective to get back to Bhubaneswar .. when i see only option as TCS, Infy, Mindtree, who are not hiring laterals anymore?My response: IT jobs in service based companies are heavily dependent on Clients so location for a specific place cannot be guaranteed. I mean skillset match + experience match + preferred location + project requirement is a very rare combination, not that it doesn’t happen, but you need to wait till the scenario that suits you comes up.I would suggest join any of these companies, if your skillsets and experience match (that is very important for your career), settle till you get to know all the process and keep looking for internal job openings for your preferred location and check with your HR, managers, clients to work out a feasible option that lets you work from a different location.And I think lateral hiring is going on in all these companies, check their career pages.I would also like to share something, I got from a classmate in college. Her dad was a geologist by profession and getting a posting in hometown was not possible due to the nature of his job, but they did have an office in the hometown. In the beginning of his career, when he was young, unmarried, he got posted in many remote places in India & SE Asia. He was open to every location he was posted to. After some 10–15 years, he could ask for transfer to his hometown citing his flexibility to move to wherever posted. By this time, his parents had become old and wished to have their son close, and it happened. So, as long as your health permits, be flexible. Helps in the long run + you get to experience something out of the comfort zone.
How is life moving back to India after living in the US for very long on an H-1B?
I moved to India for about a year and half, from UK after living there for 8 years, so hopefully my answer should help.To give you some background,I was a regular Joe in a regular IT job from 2006 till 2009. I managed to complete an MBA from UK (2009–10) and was working there in large banks as a Business Analyst till April 2017. I and my wife were both contractors, and were making decent money, which was enough for us to buy a 4.5 BHK apartment in Pune without any loans, afford a Range Rover Evoque in UK, and live in Zone 3, London, on rent (paying a rent of £1600 per month). In short, we were living a very decent life financially, with good set of friends close by (in London and Birmingham) and had very little motivation to go back, except for my Mom, who was living in India (but my Sister and 2 nephews were living with her) .I had a friend in India who was into Construction (was a Builder) and his family has a sound background in Construction. He wanted to venture into a separate entity with me as a Working Partner (- someone who does not invest money, but works in the capacity of a partner/Director) back in 2015. I took a year to confirm, evaluating my options, contemplating whether I should venture into Real Estate and all the other factors (which I will describe below in a short while). Late in 2015, it started appearing to me as a Golden Opportunity. I was very clear since the beginning of my UK stint that I will be returning back to India. It was only a question of when, and not why, for me. This opportunity seemed like the perfect answer. So, I and my friend signed a partnership deed in April 2016 and floated our LLP. We began working on a Project in Pune and everything seemed hunky-dory. I had started wrapping up in UK and did not apply for renewal of my visa. I left UK in April 2017, on expiry of my Tier 1 visa, for the homeland.First DayI landed in India amidst the chaos of demonetization. We had more than ₹ 50,000 in 500 and 1000 denominations, but my sister who is an ex-IAS officer had “spoken” with her former colleagues at CSIA in Mumbai, where I was landing. So we got a some nice treatment from Custom Officers and our cash was cleared along with a certificate, so we can deposit it in RBI. Also, a lot of our stuff from UK had arrived in the Air Cargo terminal, and I had to go get it cleared from Customs. My ex-IAS sister had her “contacts” there too. What happened next was my “Welcome to India”. You cannot get your stuff cleared from Air cargo unless you have a “Customs Agent” certified by government to help you with documentation. You have agents for those certified agents at the gate and you can be charged anywhere from ₹2000 to 8000. Agent’s agent charged me upfront, and only inside the terminal, I get to meet my certified agent. It was 12pm by then and he very encouragingly said “Even if god decides to come down and get your stuff, he will not get it today”. I will not get much into the details, but I spent 7 hours in that terminal, running from pillar to post, talking to officers my sister had spoken with, banging my head with the agent, and somehow managed to get all my stuff by 7pm. I was hoping that the rest of my days are not like this, and God please help me like it here. None of that happened.Remaining 1 and 1/2 years in IndiaMy flat in Pune, which I mentioned above, which I had bought in 2014, was nowhere near completion, and was almost in the same state as it was in 2016, when I last visited Pune to sign the partnership. The builder had promised me that it will be ready by April 2017, had planned my return according to his promised dates, and was hoping to save on rent and enjoy my abode of my sweat and blood. But, I was not homeless.I decided to give myself and my family a break, before we join thick of things and so, went back to my home city (now in Jharkhand) for about a month. Power cuts, extreme heat, mosquitoes, drinking water shortages, no roads, scary roads, scary traffic on roads… made my and especially my 2 year old daughter’s stay amazing. My daughter was initially quite fascinated to see cows, dogs, cats, insects, ants, mosquitoes…so many other forms of life, roaming so freely. But we had to suffer a lot because of her fascination. She had hand-foot-mouth disease, some sort of viral fever, some sort of insect bite and a few more diseases. I ended up having 2 accidents in the 2 different cars we had bought on our return, and was roughed up by people who had hit my car because of their faults. But, I felt very secure and healthy in India.Went back to Pune, to join the business which was suffering a lot, thanks to the recent developments of demonetization, RERA and GST. My partner was striving to keep the business afloat, but we could see the future quite clearly for small-time builders. But, India was the promised land.The place we ultimately lived in Pune was a much smaller rented accommodation, which I had not factored in any of plans/scenarios. You don’t have inverters? You must be the kinds who enjoy stargazing. Storing water during supply hours is not that important. You can buy the 20 liter bottles which have water collected straight from gaumukh in Gangotri. All this while the builder for my flat kept promising that I will get it in June 2017, then Diwali 2017, then December 2017. Well, he was not wrong, I got the possession of the flat 1 day before I left India again on 23rd September 2018. But my crores of rupees, were well spent.When in September 2017, after delivering a small project of 47 flats, and making no profits at all, we decided to shut shop, I had already started looking out for other ventures and decided to enter the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry. Restaurants were apparently booming in Pune. After spending 3months of efforts, zeroing in on location, hiring - Restaurant Consultants, Legal consultants, Property Consultants, Interior Designer, Carpenter, Menu Engineers, Cocktail experts, Facility Management Services; I found out that it is impossible to have a 100% legal restaurant in India. I will have to pay bribes to get incomplete papers to start the business, and then keep paying bribes as and when asked for. I will have to spend around 18 hours a day in the restaurant, if I want to run it for Lunch and Dinner, because of the prevalent theft amongst the staff who leave their jobs at the drop of the hat. I would also have to invest all my life’s savings in the business and wait around a year to break even, and so eventually decided, not to go ahead with it. But, I was very optimistic about the future.All this while, i.e. for more than 6 months, my wife who was an Engineer and MBA (from Symbiosis) and was in UK with me for 6 years, working as a Business Analyst, was not getting Business Analyst jobs in India. Forget about leveraging international experience and getting better positions, she was being tested on Technical skills, which a BA doesn’t actually need. We had hoped her job and salary would help keep the monthly expenses managed, while I figure out all the other options we had considered for our return to India. She was getting frustrated and into self doubt - she wondered if she had done anything worthy in her career so far. Eventually she did land a job, with CitiBank, in January 2018. But, India is not the back office of the world.I realized, I would not be good at business, so I too should get back to the corporate world, and I too get a similar cold shoulder, like my wife. I had a cherry on the top of not being in the industry for around 8 months now. Ended up working with a startup, only because it had its customers based in North America. But, I was not disheartened.Work culture in India is a million miles away from west. Don’t expect people to show up before 11:15, if you scheduled an 11:00 am meeting and it does not involve the customers or the senior management. Daily standups at 9:30 am? What’s that? The only persons visible in office that time of the day are you and the janitor. Both look at each other- mesmerized. Thinking about maintaining a work-life balance? There will probably a time when that will be possible. If you reach office at 9am and leave at 5:30pm, you’ll be looked at quizzically, and the best part is the frowners will be your reportees. The lunch break is 1 hour, tea break 1 is 45 minutes, tea break 2 is 15 minutes, tea break 3 is 15 minutes. People leaving office before 7:30pm are not adding any value. There will be - pleasantries discussed about you behind your back; amazing and quintessential feedback to the Managers above you in the hierarchy; jokes with no sexual connotations; no boot licking; amazing professionalism; amazing etiquette; brilliant ethics and superb delivery of work. Take your people out for a dinner, tell them its on the organization and then look at the way orders are made. Its amazing. But, India is the place to work.Social life is amazing too. I had around 7 friends from my engineering college, 5 from my School and a few other close friends from my initial days of Corporate life , prior to leaving for UK. I had imagined a party every fortnight, if not every weekend. I would watch their back, and they would mine. We would be the support system of each other, like I had in UK. I guess the city life, corporate responsibilities and having a family changes all that. The friend who lived a stone’s throw away would find time to meet once in 6 months, others were a little far off, and therefore a little more difficult for them to visit or invite us. I guess, a gap of 8 years not living in their vicinity, had created some gaps as well. But, India is full of people, you will never be alone.Parents - My mom and my in-laws were a little far off from Pune. I wanted my Mom to live with us in Pune, but she adored her home way too much. I wanted our in-laws to frequent, but their business was thriving and was difficult for them to leave it alone (genuinely). We were back to doing what we did in UK - facetime/skype/whatsapp calls. But, I had traveled all this way to be with them virtually.Relatives - were always there for your support. Need an unsolicited advice? Wham!… Buying a car of your choice? Kazaam! how dare you?… Not getting your daughter’s head shaved? Immoral westernized moron! Have vacation plans? We are visiting you!…But, You get the best support from your relatives.Education is relatively inexpensive in (GBP or USD terms), as well as very comforting when you hear about the quality. It will only cost you around ₹ 1,65,000 per annum for a toddler’s playgroup, and somewhere around ₹ 3,00,000 for Kindergarten in an IB school of your choice. You can rest assured after that that your child is getting the best education in the world. But, Indian students are still the best in the world.I will not even get into the various forms of pollution as it is well documented elsewhere, and also because they were the least of my concerns.I am now in Canada, for the past 45 days. Got a PR, and now settling down here. Unfortunately, I could not go back to UK, as I had not planned for a contingency. That’s how brilliant I am! But, I am loving every bit of Canada. Both (I and my wife) have got decent jobs within a month of landing, with decent salaries (although not so decent as in UK). So, my ultimate advice would be, if you have that desire to go back to India, please do so, only after creating a backup plan for your return. Be very sure why you are going there, and if that target is missed, prepare for contingency. A natural progression is from good to better to best. And not the other way around. Hope this helps you or others who read this.Edit 1: Overwhelming response (130k views, 3k upvotes in less than a week) to what I thought would be a diminutive answer in this space, along with numerous encouraging judgements passed on me like “Loser”, “Sick Mentality”, “Spewing Venom” and the best of all “Anti-National” (not ignoring the actual love and support showered), has prompted me to provide some further clarifications:I am not anti-national and definitely more patriotic than all the keyboard warriors here. I never had any intention to defame my country, and I never will. It was probably my way of expressing my experiences (humor getting replaced by sarcasm ) OR probably the supreme capabilities of those readers who could read what I had not written. However, I will not be ashamed in calling a spade a spade. These were my experiences, and, in no manner, a generalization implied to entire India.I still support the families of all the staff (by paying salaries) I had hired, till they find another job (almost a year after we shut down). I, along with some other volunteers, ran a few road safety campaigns, standing on the roads of Pune trying to make people aware of the hazards, and getting more blessings in return, relentlessly for a few weeks. There was no use, still I tried my best. Witnessed some horrible accidents, got the victims to hospitals, managed the traffic jams thereafter, begged people to wear helmets, begged students and bike riders to not look into their phones while riding and care about theirs , as well as, other’s lives - not one person listened or paid heed. May be my attempt was not good enough, but I did try to make things right. These are just a couple of examples, and in no way seeking gratification. I hate giving justifications or claiming achievements, but I want to let this be known that I did not just “run away”.In the answer I have tried to limit my experiences to external factors which were, more or less, beyond my control. Things I could change or act upon have not been mentioned at all. If I mention them, the answer will turn into a 500 page book. So, a sincere request, please do not become mi lords and try passing judgements on my efforts, capabilities or ingenuity. I have ventured on this forum for helping others, and will keep doing so. Everyone’s still welcome to ask relevant questions, and I will try my best to help.I am obliged to all the warm wishes, love and support . Hopefully, whatever little knowledge I have about this world, I will keep sharing…thanks to you all.Edit 2 : I am overwhelmed by the response this answer is getting, even 2 weeks after it was originally posted (thanks to 3.8k Upvotes). To answer some of the comments I am getting, I recommend reading a couple of my other answers:Deepak Kumar's answer to What are your life struggles which leads you to success?Deepak Kumar's answer to Has anyone regretted moving to Canada by express entry? Why?Once again, I appreciate all the love and support.
What was the last thing you said to someone before they died?
This answer may contain sensitive images. Click on an image to unblur it.It’s funny how you recall information or memories. Since I discovered Quora I feel that some of my memories just rush forward just by reading a question. These memories are locked up somewhere in my mind by layers and layers of other memory. I’ve actually witnessed a lot of deaths since I was a medic in the military and a caregiver when I left. This memory that rushed into my thoughts actually really upset me. I wanted to tell this story but first I needed permission from someone. If you read any of my past answers you will see I always avoid using names of people and places. I believe some of this is so sensitive that I fear I may offend a family or friend more than I fear that I am violating HIPPA.When I left the army after about 10+ years of services (I served actually around 9 years without all the schools/training I had to take) I realized for the short time I worked as a respiratory practitioner I really didn’t want to take care of adult patients. We really do complain too much and it’s typically are fault that we find ourselves in the hospital. We either drink too much, smoke too much, drive too fast or any of the “Too Much’s” that we do all the time. I decided pediatrics was going to be my next move. I didn’t mind kids. Most of the time I had fun with them. I never saw myself getting married or having kids of my own. I had a really attractive girlfriend at the time and we just moved in together. I wasn’t looking to start a family.I was already a couple of months into my new job working nigh shift at a hospital that had 2 floors of general pediatric populations, a PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit), a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and a specialty pediatric floor. I started off in PICU and then moved to NICU. I had enough prior experience that my supervisors didn’t believe I needed to do the mandatory 2 years of floor experience before moving into the ICU. In PICU, most of my patients that were assigned to me were critical meaning that they were typically on a ventilator. So you can imagine that there wasn’t much communication between me and the patients. There was some between me and the family members. Almost 4 months into the job a team of pulmonologist decided they were going to begin sending all their patients to our new area that was built for children that had specific respiratory issues. Being part of PICU I never really saw these patients. It was primarily the floor therapist that worked with them.I don’t remember the specific day but I remember walking into PICU and looking for my name on the white board that told me which patients I would be assigned that shift. The assigned team leader that shift told me I had to go down to the department. “Yup” I remember is I said but in my mind I thought, “what the fuck did I possibly do to get myself into trouble”? I believed I solved the question in my head I started cursing the nurse to blame. I walked into the department and day shift was already giving report to their relief. I walked through my supervisors door and sat down on the chair looking obviously annoyed. Fortunately my boss liked me. At a hospital department party about a month earlier in a club I had slapped a guys drink out his hands because he was becoming too threatening to my boss because my boss was gay and it was obvious by his mannerism (how he spoke and his pretty feminine use of his overly flopping loosed wrists hands). Now that he couldn’t use the beer bottle as a weapon I confronted him aggressively. It never elevated into a fight. He was just another bully picking on someone weaker then himself. Typical reaction when he walked away when confronted with the greater possibility of violence being set upon himself. So I didn’t worry too much if I was about to get into trouble. “On your application you said you did your thesis on cystic fibrosis right”? I hated it when flopped his loose hands around when he talked. “Come on, you know I did”, I joked. “Yay!”, he said as his flopping continued. “We need you to sponsor someone”, he too overly excited said to me. I really wasn’t into this new thing the hospital was doing. Each practitioner on the floors would “adopt” (we would be their primary caregiver) a child with cystic fibrosis (CF). If you’ve never heard of it its a disease that causes your organs to secrete particularly thick mucus inside of it. These primarily affected the GI tract, reproductive system but most dangerously the respiratory system. At the time, a child was lucky to reach his/her 20’s if the respiratory system was compromised. When I did my thesis it was difficult to actually talk to a patient because most parents felt like the interview would upset their child. “Here’s your girl” he handed me a brief of her history and medical history. I was happy it took both hands for him to hand me the folder. “Now listen”, the flopping started as soon as his hands were free. “Lessly can be difficult. But remember, she’s only 8”, he ended and gave me the side long glance that he used to annoy me that was his attempt to flirt but he knew it was more annoying than anything else.I understood, as I was in the elevator going to the respiratory floor, that I only would have to take care of Lessly when she was in the hospital. If I was in the PICU I was obligated to try and be there for her therapy. These CF kids would spend anywhere from 1–2 months at a time in the hospital every year for maintenance and even longer if they got sick. They weren’t suppose to mingle with each other because they can get each other sick. Later in my career I would catch 2 CF patients actually having sex in one of their bathrooms. They were teenagers irregardless if they had special needs or not. Some of their treatment took almost 60 minutes. Sometimes even more. At night though it wasn’t so bad because we wanted them to sleep so it typically involved a mask connected to a nebulizer that we slipped on them while they slept. Some of the kiddos that were sicker had to sleep with oxygen or a BiPAP machine.Annoyed that I’ve already been walking around the floors and checked both play rooms looking for Lessly. I found her in another patient’s room. A nurse told me where to find her and she gave me a warning smile as she wished me luck. I introduced myself faking being nicer by a power of at least 4 when I told it was time for her treatment. She knew she wasn’t suppose to be in the room but at least the other patient had a mask on. Something all our CF patients were required to do when they left their own room. Lessly turned to me and I actually was taken aback by her large, almost cartoonish eyes. “I think I’ll skip it until later”, her voice faded just a bit at the end when we made eye contact. “Fine, I’ll just chart ‘patient refuse treatment’. See ya later”. I was annoyed and wasn’t going to deal with this tonight. As I was walking away she ran past me, her hospital gown flapping and opening behind her. “Fine, lets hurry”, she was gasping as she dashed to her room. “Hey fix your gown! And where the fuck is your mask”?! I shut my mouth really quickly and looked around to see who heard me. “Language” the nurse that told me where Lessly could be found said without even looking up at me. “I know”, was all I can say.Lessly was difficult at first. She was actually kind of bossy. You know what though. She actually knew her routine pretty well. She did all the medication in the right order and she actually told me some of the numbers I needed to check on a few tests that she performed herself. She liked to use the mouth piece instead of the mask. I remembered seeing it on her file. I like that too. She couldn’t talk when she had it in her mouth. I told her to behave and I stepped outside to the nurses station. I introduced myself to the pretty attractive nurse that had helped me and then warned me earlier. I found out she was Lessly’s adopted RN. She warned me that Lessly has been known to be difficult but that I probably knew that already by reading her family history. I agreed and made it a point to remember to actually read her file. When the last of her therapy was done I listened to her lungs. I typically put my hand on the backs of my patients when I listen to their chest. I found that it kept them from scooting away from my stethoscope if it were a bit cold. She wiggled while I was trying to listen to her. “Your hands are cold”, she half laughed. “Shhh”, I said making sure it didn’t sound too sharp. I was closing her door when I was leaving and I said goodnight when she asked, “Are you going to be my RT from now on and are you coming back tonight”? I looked at her big brown eyes and jokingly smiled, “Only if I decide I like you”. “You better because I like you”, she said really quickly. I was kind of shocked at her comment considering that we didn’t build any connection and I wasn’t too patient with her. My next smile was a bit more genuine, “Go to sleep babe. I’ll see you later tonight”. That’s how my first night started with Lessly. I sat down and went over her history half paying attention to what I was reading half paying attention to her nurse sitting next to me as she charted. I already knew Lessly was of Hispanic decent by her last name before I met her. Her parents live quite a distance away. She had 6 other brothers and sisters and she was the 3rd from the top. By their insurance I assumed that their family didn’t make a lot of money. Out of all their children, Lessly was the only one that was born with CF. “Shitty luck”, I thought. So I thought I did. “Language” her nurse said again. “Sometimes I think out loud”, I apologized. She was cool enough to laugh with me.Surprisingly our bond grew stronger. It was because I didn’t coddled her. She was kind of a wild child. Always wanted to have fun and didn’t follow all the rules. It only took about 3 weeks before I got written up when they found out Lessly was making calls to the nurses station requesting candy for herself when she was actually giving it to me. I actually felt horrible when it was made clear to me that I was actually stealing candy from kids. CFers had problems absorbing calories. There was a large closet with almost every imaginable candy your can think of. Not just the typical American type candy but also the kind that children from Mexico would be familiar with. All of it was donated by the candy manufacturer for the kids at this hospital. Eventually I would meet her family. They didn’t speak English well enough to completely understand so her oldest sister, Marla, translated most of the time. They had only one car in the family and not all the children could fit and the mother didn’t drive. That explains why I didn’t see them all the time. It was like that for some of the kids. Most had it better with parents being with them in the hospital. Some had it worse where the family would literally just drop of their kids and pick them up when it was time for them to go home. The day she was going back home a counselor approached me along with Lessly’s nurse. Lessly’s very attractive nurse introduced the hospital welfare counselor to me. Leslie had gotten permission from her parents and they agreed it was OK for Lessly to contact me either by email or phone outside of the hospital and Lessly said I already agreed to it as well. The counselor just had to go over some rules before the hospital would allow this to happen. I gave the counselor a questioning look that she didn’t catch but her nurse did. “Ummm Ok”, is all I could say when she was finished. I half laughed at myself thinking how Lessly always gets what she wanted considering I never agreed to this. Her nurse kind of figured it out as well. I wheeled her down to their awaiting car listening to her jabber on about what she was going to do when she got home. The van was a workshop van and I really didn’t think they had much room in the back with all the tools much less thinking the van would make the 2 hour drive back to their home.Lessly made it a point to contact me almost everyday by at least email. When I wasn’t at work she would call me at home to say goodnight. I actually never got tired of her emails because they weren’t the type I expected from an 8 year old girl. They weren’t so girly. In fact, Lessly was kind of a tomboy. I stopped correcting her about her use of bad language with was primarily the word “shit”. I didn’t have much of rebuttal when she pointed out that I cussed all the time. She shared pictures of herself and of her friends on their softball team. I could always pick her out of the crowd because of her big brown eyes. Not even her long black hair could hide them completely. It got to the point my live-in girl friend at the time thought I was cheating on her. After I shared some of Lessly’s letters she left me alone to read them and reply. “I thought you didn’t want kids” she said loudly from the bathroom one night. “I don’t” I replied annoyingly. I smiled and reminded myself that I would see her at her home in about a month for Thanksgiving.I remember staring at the red star next to my name on the white board in PICU. That was a reminder that the person with the star next to their name had an obligation somewhere else in the hospital. I just talked to her last night and she seemed fine. I walked to the respiratory floor first. Lessly’s adopted nurse saw me and before I could ask she told me where Lessly was and warned me she wasn’t very happy. I walked in and wanted to play at being annoyed. I was ready to say. “I thought I already got rid of you”, but when she saw me I could tell she already had been crying, She began to approach me with her hands stretched out way to early as she cried. I scooped her body up, that was tiny for an 8 year old, from the ground and let her cry. As it got louder I closed the door behind me and let her cry for about 10 minutes. During that time her nurse slipped in quietly with a tray of food and my orders for her therapy and medication. I did my best to hold her and go through her doctor’s orders at the same time. I put her down on her bed and used the button on the bed to raise the head of it up so she can rest with her body up. “OK babe. We’ll talk later but lets do your treatments then get some food in you after”. “I’m not doing the treatments and I don’t like the food”, she fought back. The treatments did suck and she had to them 4 times a day for the rest of her life. The food was also awful. I grabbed my portable pulse ox and held her hand as I went to place on her badly painted finger nail. She held onto my hand as the numbers came up, 91% oxygen saturation. I felt her squeeze my hand as she stared at the numbers as well. She looked at me with those big brown eyes and a quivering lip like she did something wrong. “It’s OK baby. We’re gonna take care of this”. She argued again about not wanting her treatment. When I became more insistent she started crying. I remember cupping her face and asking what she wants me to do to try and make everything better. Through her crying I could barely make out the words: McDonald's. I half smiled and said, “agreed”. The hospital had a pretty decent food court that included a McDonald's. We started the therapy. By now she preferred using the mask so she could talk to me. I learned from the nurse that during her softball game today Lessly passed out and was brought to an ER close to her home. She was by herself and the family’s phone had been disconnected so her mother could not be reached until the ER Lessly was at had a police car dispatched to retrieve her mother. They then took the two hour drive via ambulance back to my hospital. Her pulmonologist had written in the notes that Lessly should be removed from any form of sporting activities. I found out last year before I met her they made her quit her soccer team. I shared information with her nurse that her lungs sound more diminished and her oxygen level was 91% (which is short of the 95% mark she had to be). It was going to be a fight for her to wear a nasal cannula.She ended up staying for about 70 days and was able to go home before Christmas. Her parents and siblings only came around once a week and that wasn’t even every week. I watch this little girl slowly slide into depression. I ended up meeting with her pulmonologist, child behavioral specialist and her nurse. Her family was in a bad situation because her father wasn’t finding a lot of work and their van eventually broke down. Her pulmonologist, who I did like because he cussed like a soldier as well, had given the family money to fix it but it would take another month before their mechanic could get to it. Me and her nurse agreed to take turns paying their phone bill and I decided I would pick up some of her siblings every weekend and take them back home on Sunday. The plan was approved by her mother who was very happy to see me when we met at a bus stop not far from their home. I started spending some days off to visit Lessly and I started to bring her food and tomboyish stuff I thought she may like. At first everyone applauded me for my actions. The day before Lessly was to spend Christmas at home without the need for oxygen the pulmonologist, social worker, my boss and a child behavior specialist corned me into a room. They explained to me that I was causing Lessly to become too dependent on me and it would be better if I started sharing my medical responsibilities with another practitioner. The behavior specialist expressed that Leslie saw me more as a father figure than her own father. It was explained to me that this was more than a child crush and that it was dangerous for her to be too codependent on me because I may decide to one day abandon her perhaps not even by choice. I smiled and guaranteed them that would never happen. I admitted that I do love Lessly as if she were my own daughter and I reminded them it was they who paired me with Lessly because they felt me and her would get along well. The conversation became more aggressive and I did my best to reign in my short temper. In the end they threatened to revoke the permission the hospital gave me earlier to contact her outside. By then it was just me and the behavioral specialist arguing with each other. I think I may have frighten her because my boss, that I stood up for that day in the bar, stood quickly from his seat, said my name and pleaded, “Please relax”. I felt my face warming up and clenched fists shaking. I don’t recall when, but I must have stood up at some point and faced my opponent. I can see the concern in the behavioral therapist face. She along with everyone else was somewhat shaken. I walked out and tried to catch my breath. I hope I didn’t say or do anything else stupid. I was suspended for a week while they decided my fate as an employee. I wasn’t allowed to represent myself and they took my badge so I couldn’t enter the hospital grounds again. I did not get any calls or emails from Leslie for the next two weeks.A week past and I heard nothing back from my boss and they would not let me talk to anyone. Before the end of the second week Patrick knocked at my door. Me and him would remain on and off friends to this day. I was surprised he came by. We talked about the CFer he was assigned to by the hospital. We all knew the each CF kid, but the bonds that were strongest were made with the ones we were assigned to. He explained to me how he got too close to his patient who was 16 years old. They spent time playing ball and he even went camping with him and his wife for a weekend. We laughed about how his Make a Wish was to have a WWE (wrestling show) party at Hooters. Every male employee made it. When his CFer passed away he was so broken he couldn’t even give the speech. I remembered being there. The vacation he told everyone he was going on was actually to recover because he was in a state of depression. I apologized and I felt such sadness for him. I watched him tell me his story while he did his best to not start crying. He never made eye contact with me. Those were the tears that parents shed for their dead children. Not the tears of healthcare provider. This program has been barely going on for a year. When he was more composed he requested that I don’t kick his ass when he tells me the news. The hospital was willing to put me on a 6 month probation but I was no longer to be Lessly’s primary. I could feel my face begin to flush and my teeth clenched. I let his words sink in and I relaxed. I can remember trying not to let the water that barely hung to the bottom of my eyes fall down my face. He continued that I would be able to give her treatment so long as no other practitioner was available. I would also be allowed to keep in contact with Lessly as long as her parents approved. I told him I would agree and he went back to his car and returned with a large envelope that held all the stipulations that I had to agree with. I signed and we talked a bit more before Patrick left. I really didn’t need this. I was already dealing with the fights that me and my girlfriend were always having. I would go another week until I was allowed back to work. Everyone knew what happened and everyone actually sided with me. I would see Lessly’s nurse for the first time and she smirked at me approvingly and titled me, “trouble maker”.It would be another 2 years and I was still taking care of Lessly. During that period we had some challenges. Her father at one point got jealous and forbid her to talk to me anymore. It was because I had given her several Christmas presents that sat in her room for her to open on Christmas. Her father couldn’t pay for the nice gifts he wanted for to give her. Lessly’s mother actually stood up for me. I fixed the situation by placing her mother and father’s name as well on the card next to the gifts. Through that time she began to deteriorate. She was 9 years old but weighed as much as a 6 year old. She would eat and eat and eat but her body wouldn’t absorb anything. I looked on the internet and even contacted some military doctors both stateside and in Germany that I knew. My determination was the same determination I had while i was in Special Operations. Deep inside though I could feel myself giving into desperation. She was now spending more time at the hospital and she always had to be on oxygen. When my girlfriend at the time left I wasn’t sad because I had to find a way to save Lessly. She was going on her second month at the hospital when she called me at home. She was excited. I can hear it in her voice and I could picture her jumping on the hospital bed as she told me her good news. Her voice became winded and words spoken needed effort. “The Make a Wish Foundation is going to grant my wish”! I smiled and congratulated her. I knew the foundation representative at our hospital put the sickest children to the head of the priority list because they wanted them to have their wish granted before they passed. I hung up the phone and promised her more chicken nuggets from McDonalds when I worked again. I was happy she couldn’t see me upset.She wanted to make it to her 11th birthday she told me one day. Me and her nurse planned her party that she would have at the hospital. Her pulmonologist arranged for a bus to pick up all her school friends. It would a big surprise for her. I remember the party. I watched her with her mask on talking way too fast with all her friends. She dragged around the oxygen tank effortlessly now. Her father was off to side eating cake and not paying much attention. Her mother stood a bit away and I can see she was fighting back tears. I walked up next to her and we stepped outside the room. I gave her a hug and we both cried. She started to speak to me through her tears. I tried to calm her down but she wouldn’t let me interrupt. After about 4 minutes into her speech her oldest daughter walked out and called out her mother’s name. A few words were passed back and forth between them and I could see the mother getting more annoyed. Marla finally just said in Spanish, “He only speaks English remember?”. Both of us laughed and Lessly’s mother gave me a huge hug and this time the tears were for a different reason.I remember sitting in the same office where I wanted to kill the behavioral therapist. She now sat far enough away from me. We ran into each other several times since that incident but we never said anything to each other. This time she glared at me daring me to challenge her. This was a regular meeting I knew, about Lessly. We were to come up with a plan for her when she returned home until the next time she had to return back to the hospital for her maintenance treatment. Patrick was there with me as well. I was included because I would help train the mother and Lessly’s oldest sister on how to use some of the equipment along with Lessly’s nurse. The pulmonologist started the meeting, “I have spoken with Lessly’s parents and conferred with several other doctors. It is our decision that Lessly should go home on Hospice Care…” He continued speaking but I did not hear anything else. I felt an uncontrollable amount of tears streaming down my face but i had no expression and only felt the numbness for the first time that I would become so familiar with through out the duration of my life. I felt Patrick’s hand on my shoulder. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone. I just didn’t want to be there anymore. Everyone was right. I got too involved. I got too close. I never wanted kids but I would easily take this girl as my own daughter if she needed someone to raise her. I felt another hand on my shoulder and I grabbed the tissue offered but I never used it. I just sat there crying expressionlessly quietly. The pulmonologist actually stopped and everyone said my name. I looked at all the faces. They were all crying. I was surprised that the behavior specialist was the other person sitting next to me with an arm around my shoulder. She had offered me the tissue. Lessly’s nurse was crying and it seemed like she could barely keep her composure so she stepped out of the room. I seemed so tired. My supervisor let me go home. I let despair, like I never felt before, engulf me as I drove home way above the speed limit in the late evening.I did really good to keep my composure around Lessly. A month had gone by since she was discharged. Me, Patric and her nurse made regular visits. I was proud I was the one that she called every night. I got my usual phone call and she requested I take her shopping. “Of course I said”. I would do anything for her and though some have accepted her fate I foolishly spent long hours into the night trying to find a drug or therapy or procedure or some fucking kind of miracle to buy her more time. I remember that day. I picked her and Marla up from their home and we drove 35 minutes to an address they wanted to shop. I pulled into this shopping center that didn’t seem all that safe. My car stuck out like a sore thumb among the other cars. I told the girls to wait for me in front of the car but stay where I can see them. I went to the back of my car and pulled my gun that I kept hidden under the spare tire and tucked the holster that held my pistol at the 4 o'clock position in my pants. All the writing of every shop was in Spanish. “OK guys, let’s go” as I followed them into a store. I stopped just inside the entrance as the girls rushed forward. I was greeted by a gentleman in a suite. I think he offered his hand to me but I just stood there focusing on not crying again. “Senior”? he asked again. I think he offered me water and then had me sit between the rows of coffins he sold. I heard Marla yell, “He only speaks English”. I remember he started to talk to me in more familiar words. He might have even asked me something. I recall telling him, “Don’t fucking talk to me”. It was the best I could do. He didn’t seem shock. He apologized and said, “I understand” quietly and walked away towards the girls. The family was poor. That much was obvious. The staff has always been good about donating money. Funerals weren’t cheap but usually we could pay for thirty or forty percent of the funeral while the family paid the rest. In Lessly’s family’s case we planned on paying the whole thing. The pulmonologist would be putting in most of the money I volunteered to donate $1,000. Lessly’s nurse matched mine and Patric gave $500. The girls were by themselves as they looked around at the different coffins. It might as well have been a hand grenade Lessly was playing with as fast as I got up and yelled her name as she began to climb into a coffin. I remember picking her up from the inside of the coffin and hugging her while fighting back tears. I felt her whisper into my ear and tell me, “It’s OK” as she patted me on the back. I’ve never cried in front of Lessly. I always tried to remain strong for her. I used to joke that I had my tear ducts removed when I joined the Army. Right now she was much stronger than me. I think this is the first time I realized she has accepted her fate. I was outside the shop leaning against my car when the gentleman that I rudely spoke to earlier came out and handed me a bottle of water. I thanked him and apologized half heatedly. He understood and graciously ushered me back into the shop, “I believe your daughter has chosen a coffin senior”. I replied somewhat embarrassed, “she’s not my daughter”. He stopped with one hand on my shoulder and the other holding the door part way opened and looked straight at me with eyes that had years of experience doing this and said with a very solemn face. “Senior, of course she is your daughter”. I started crying again.The coffin she wanted was pink and gold. Angels were on each side of the coffin. Lessly requested the lining be replaced by a pink one. She didn’t like white because it reminded her of being in the hospital. Lessly didn’t have a second choice. I heard Lessly remark to her sister. “This is the one I want to spend eternity in”. Fuck! I looked at the man scribbling down numbers on a pad. How much I asked with my eyes and not my mouth. He understood. “For this coffin and to replace the lining but I would recommend having it expedited because it will take almost a month for the seamstress to do it and she already has other projects”, he smiled at me for the first time. “For you senior, with delivery $7,300 (I roughly recall the actual price but it was over 7K). My fingers involuntarily reached for my credit card and I handed it to him. I didn’t expect this to be so costly, but you know what? If my Lessly wants this coffin, my Lessly will get this coffin.I spent a lot of time at her house when I could. Sometimes Patrick or Lessly’s nurse would go with me. The family didn’t have air-condition so behavioral specialist purchased one for Lessly’s room and her father installed it. We stayed up later than usual sometimes. We would talk. She asked me a lot of questions about God, death and heaven that I couldn’t answer or I didn’t want to answer because I didn’t want her to share my beliefs. One night she told me she wished I would have been her Dad. I’m glad the lights were already off so she couldn’t see the tears that were brimming around my eyes. I told her that she was very lucky to have her Dad. He wasn’t always around because he had to work all the time to take care of everyone. By her silence I wasn’t sure she agreed with me. “If I ever have a daughter Lessly, I wish she was just like you”, I told her. She began to cry and I held her as long as she would let me. “Are you scared baby”? I asked. Even in the dark her big brown eyes caught the light. No, she nodded. Before I left to go back to my place she made me promise that I would be at her side when she left. I promised I would be there. I don’t know how I did not get pulled over that night. I didn’t take my foot off the accelerator while I was on the highway until I felt my car vibrating violently.She seemed better to me. However, she was now wheelchair bound. I remember taking her and all her siblings to get ice cream. I’ll never do that again. It took both my car and Lessly’s nurse’s to fit everyone in one trip and they were running around out of control. I stood next to Leslie. Me and her laughed watching her nurse try to control them all. I sat at the edge of Lessly’s bed tucking her in later that night. She joked and said I should marry her nurse. We laughed a little bit. Her nurse was outside waiting for me to leave so we both could stop at the gas station. We would both be back here tomorrow for some changes with her IV pump and me for her oxygen concentrator. I stopped checking Lessly’s oxygen saturation 5 days ago. I didn’t want to know. She reminded me about my promise. I smiled at her, “I promise I’ll be here for you” I didn’t have the strength to say “end”. “Remember your promise to me, your suppose to be my Guardian angel from now on”. We both smiled at each other before I turned off the lights. She looked sleepy. I wanted to make sure she got rest.Me and Lessly’s nurse stopped at a 24 hour gas station close to her family’s house. I made friends with the owner and made frequent stops there. Lessly had a collection jar at the counter and the owner even gave her father new tires for free because he understood the financial hardship they were in. As I pumped gas into my car Lessly’s nurse admitted to me that she never thought I was a “Big Softie” with the way I carried myself, cussed and my military mentality. We joked back and forth with each other a bit more. I don’t know who leaned in first but that was the first time I kissed her. We ignored the click of the gas pump handles for about 5 minutes before I told her “Leave your car here. We’re coming back tomorrow anyways. Just come back to my place”. She smiled and agreed. I was so busy with Lessly and work that I never gave myself a chance to be normal for a little bit.I remember waking up and I could hear Lessly’s nurse under my second floor bedroom window on the phone. I went to reach for my phone that wasn’t there. I didn’t think much of it as I probably left it downstairs. I heard her call out from downstairs, “Take a shower”! “That was the plan”, I thought. I noticed a towel that was already wet next to mine so I figured she was ready to go. When I stepped out of the bathroom I heard my neighbors voice. He was a cop and a veteran so we chatted a lot about the good ole days when ever we ran into each other. He’s actually met Lessly before. I greeted him when I went downstairs after I had dressed. He was in uniform. “Hey man. what’s up”? “Hey bro”, he replied in a voice that was softer than usual. He had his sunglasses on and I was wondering is he was here on official business? Then he sniffed the way people sniffed when they are crying. She stepped back into the apartment from the back door holding her phone and mine. She looked at me surprised to see me already downstairs. Tears began flowing from her eyes. I don’t know what happened after that. I remember saying “NO NO NO NO” and then “I promised”, I remember looking for my keys and yelling for them to give them back to me. I remember running upstairs and getting my spare. I remember being outside where my car was parked and a police cruiser blocking my way out. Some other cop was there standing behind my car. I recognized the yellow rim around the taser he was holding. I yelled something I think was more “NO’s” and “I promised”. I remember people trying to stop me. All I can remember clearly was that I had to get to my Lessly.I should have probably went to jail. I know I ultimately became violent to my neighbor and his partner. They calmed me down enough that I was able to sit still and wait for him to change. He drove us with his wife and Lessly’s nurses together in their SUV. He warned me if I did anything to endanger anyone in this car he would not hesitate to shoot me. I believed him but I didn’t care. I was holding a towel around my arm to stop the bleeding. I kind of remember scraping against the concrete. Lessly’s nurse sat in the back with me but I think she was scared of me. I didn’t really care. We got to her family’s house. He drove fast but kept it under control. I stepped out before he put the car in park and I walked quickly to the house. Marla met me before I reached the door. She had been crying all night. Her mother stood at the doorway and we held each other as we both cried. She told me in broken English as I tried to go into the house, “She’s gone. She’s gone”. Her body was already at the morgue. I had broken my promise.I thought I was doing pretty good at the funeral so far. I wasn’t crying but I wouldn’t look into her open casket. Most of the speakers spoke only in Spanish though most of the crowd was a good mix of many people from the hospital as well as parents whose children had CF that knew Lessly. One day I thought, they will have to go through this. The podium was on a raised platform that overlooked the casket but I made a point of not looking at her. Her pulmonologist gave me a slight smile as he made room for me to speak. I remember pulling my speech out of my back pants pocket and placing it on the podium and trying to flatten out the sides. I looked out into crowd and I tried to say the first word. I had to stop to catch my breath. I wanted to say my peace without crying. I tried. And I tried, And I tried. People called my name and said “It’s Ok Joey”. I took a long deep breath for another attempt at speaking but instead My body just walked around the podium and looked down at my Lessly and I lost it. I remember apologizing for breaking my promise. I didn’t care anymore what I may have looked like in front of all these people. I just needed my Lessly to forgive me. Her mother was the first one to help me up and then Lessly’s nurse. They helped me into another room. I don’t remember ever being this devastated before. I would not cry like this again for another 17 years or so. I still had to carry her coffin. I cursed God and I cursed the disease. I’ve stopped praying for myself a long time ago but I figured if I prayed for her he would at least listen. In my desperation, prayer was all I had left and once again he let me down.I apologized to my neighbor and I offered him anything he wanted from my place before the movers got there. He smiled and joked about taking my big screen TV. I looked at him and smiled. “Sure. It’s yours. It’s the least I could do for almost turning your wife into a widow”. We both laughed and argued as we dragged my big screen TV next door to his place. His wife complained that he shouldn’t accept it. After everything was put into storage it was already late into the evening. I looked at some of the pictures I had at my going away party. I tried to say goodbye privately to Lessly’s nurse but I think she was still afraid to be around me alone. I had quit my job after the week break from work they gave me. Everyone was surprised except Lessly’s nurse.I decided I would become a traveling respiratory practitioner working 3 to 6 months assignments through out the United States, Caribbean and Hawaii. I would not stay long enough to build any ties with people. My first job was in Baltimore. I put the picture of Lessly over my tachometer and thought about my girl as I began a new chapter in life. I would travel for 16 years never calling any one place home. After Lessly, I promised never to go to another patient’s funeral. I would break that promise and eventually went to 4 more during those 16 years. Nothing ever hurt me like that day I lost my little girl until quite recently. I never knew I had it in me to care for a child so much. She taught me something about myself and I thought that one day I would like to have a child of my own. Just one. If it’s a girl. I’ll name her Lessly.*I had a feeling this would be a long one. Through the years I kept in touch with Marla. I asked for her permission since her father had passed away and her mother wasn’t doing very well mentally. For about 7 years I always sent Marla flowers to put on Lessly’s grave. Anything but white. Marla finally told me to stop and she promised she would put the ones she always placed and promise to tell Lessly it was from me too. Marla became a nurse. She got married. They are planning to finally have kids. She was worried because she carried the Cystic Fibrosis gene. She told me if it’s a girl. She would name her Leslie. I really like that and I think Lessly would too.Edit: thank you for the kind words. This was a long time ago. I really do not like to name places or organizations. It just avoids complications. All I have left is a single picture, this card from her funeral her mother gave me, a bracelet Lessly made me and a rosary her mother gave me. The most valuable thing I treasure is the memories Lessly gave me. I never thought I would find anyone that I wanted to marry and have a child with. I was excited for this Christmas because I was going to visit my Lessly and I wanted to introduce her to my now ex fiancé. I wanted to tell Lessly that I may have a child after all. It didn’t work out. Another great tragedy in my life and I cried like I cried for my Lessly because of another loss in my life. If your interested it’s here: Joseph Alone's answer to Are you happy? If not, why not?
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