26 Jan Life Whispers At You. Then It Screams

It was the Wednesday after Mother’s Day. Driving into the office that morning on the freeway, my skin tingled with nervous excitement. I had no idea that morning just how much this day would be forever etched in my history. I’d been afraid of it and looking forward to it for some time. It was the day I planned to announce my intent to leave.

That morning I thought it was all about the one scary and exhilarating thing I was setting out to do. I was ready and prepared to stop being the hard-charging marketing exec working for a venture-backed software company.

Little did I know it would be one of the worst days of my life, the day that would change everything.

The long drive in I ruminated on what exactly I would say, and how I would say it. I’d practiced it, written it out so I’d be prepared and not blather on. I wanted to do it with care and grace.

The love for this game had lost its zest for some time. It wasn’t soul crushing for me… yet. But admittedly, the expansive feeling you have when you know it’s right was gone. The company’s mission was worthwhile, no doubt. It just wasn’t my personal mission anymore. The spring in my step was diminishing for months and months, perhaps even years. You know it’s time when all you can think about are the possibilities outside.

It was the definition of ‘opportunity cost’—veiled in a tough decision between known versus the unknown—the thing that stood between me and the next part of my journey. It was the day I had imagined for longer than I would admit to anyone. I was dying to get out of the hamster wheel, despite this company being one of the few places where culture, leadership and learning were all crazy insanely great, best I’d ever seen in my 20-year career. That focus started from the top, and this CEO was and still continues to be the real deal.

That was me 18 months ago.

The night before my husband asked me if I really was sure that this was the right step. (Nothing like strong support in the final hours.) I knew where it was coming from. I was the breadwinner with the steady gig, him with an entrepreneurial venture still in startup mode with up and down seasons of revenue. He was freaked. I was walking away from a $200k+ a year gig, including paid president club vacations each year. My quitting wouldn’t be completely reckless. Our 4-year-old wouldn’t go hungry. I’d been saving up.

A full day of meetings later—where each hour I explained my decision to a management team colleague one by one—I arrived home exhausted and totally exhilarated.

Then I got the call that would change everything.

My mother’s bone marrow biopsy was that same day. So embedded in my own stuff, I forgot it was that day. She was admitted to the hospital immediately when they saw it. Fifty percent of her blood was cancer. I didn’t even know that leukemia was just another way of saying ‘blood cancer’. No chemo, and she’d be dead in a matter of days.

She fought the good brave fight. For five months, I had the privilege of taking on a new role that didn’t come with a fancy titled business card or President’s Club: Caregiver.

In and out of the hospital we went together, 11 times over five months, averaging eight-day stays each time. To say my mother suffered and fought this damn disease is an understatement. A serious understatement, and that’s me who watched her, not actually experienced it myself. So many others who brave diseases know what I’m talking about. Weekly transfusions–that towards the end were almost daily transfusions–all while having monthly five-day courses of chemo, meant my mom belonged up there with the millions of other courageous cancer fighters.

There were days I’ll admit where I wondered whether she should just give up.

We wouldn’t get more time together though. She would never know what it felt like to be healthy again. I watched my mother, Irene die the morning of September 28, 2013 in her home. She was surrounded by friends and family those last 48 hours.

Here’s what I know for sure.

It’s no accident that my decision of a no-turning-back announcement to leave happened the same day that one of the most important people in my life needed me like she’s never needed me before.

One door closes, another opens.

Call it the force in the universe. God. Fate. Divine intervention or whatever you like.

What ways is the universe whispering to you that you aren’t listening to? Isn’t it time to take action? Share in the comments below and let’s have the conversation.

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