“Can everyone gather in the middle of the newsroom?” My boss said.
I don’t have time for this, I thought.
I was looking for new video of a stranger punching a bicyclist in the face when my boss called out. I was also waiting for the Belmar drowning package and looking at an update about the jury in Cosby Sex Assault trial.
I didn’t know who called my name but I figured I’d better take a few moments away from my desk to see what was going on.
As my boss strolled towards me, I realized all eyes were on me.
In a panic, I turned to walk away. When I did, I hit a cup in my co-worked Bryan’s hand. Soda covered his jacket and t-shirt. I broke away from the gathering, limped over to to my desk as fast as my cane would carry me, and grabbed napkins.
“Where are you going?”
“I don’t want to leave Bryan soggy,” I replied.
Seconds later, I felt a hand on the small of my back.
“Nika has been at ABC 20 years,” my boss said as she extended her hand forward. It contained a pin.
Wow, I’ve come to this place for nearly half my life, I thought, as she continued speaking.
“She always comes in with a smile on her face even though she’s been through so much. She deserves to be here. She deserves to be on this Earth.”
Her words choked me up. They made me think about all I survived in my years there; it’s enough to fill a medical journal. In fact, I had one of my two mini strokes when i was sitting at my desk.
Despite my health battles, I showed up to give a voice to other people’s pain, as well as the struggles and triumphs of the world.
Through my medical strife, my job was a refuge. For eight or nine hours a day, I didn’t fret about the tests, the pain, the pills, the surgeries or the bills. I didn’t worry about my mortality.
As I made my way back to my desk, there were hugs and shouts of congratulations. Sometimes I said thank you. Other times, I said, “is this really good news? I still have another two decades to retirement.”
I was uncomfortable with the attention. But, I was glad anyone cared that I reached a milestone that I wasn’t sure I’d live to see 20 years ago.