I drove back home from work a defeated man.
The work we had done was good work, and it was making a difference, but the naysayers and whisperers at the office were circling, saying none of it was good enough, that I needed to go. When I was told they were moving me out, I was, frankly, kind of relieved; but I felt like I’d let my team down. They had to stay and continue to take the abuse, and I was being moved to another job.
That job turned out to be, frankly, better than the old one — but I didn’t know that then. I just knew I had lost years worth of work, and I wouldn’t be working on what was, up to that point, the great passion of my working life – helping people who had been sick, like I had.
The thing that made me feel that much more defeated was that I knew I should have done some things better. It’s easy to dismiss criticism that is unfounded, but not all of it was. So I couldn’t say, in the end, I felt unfairly persecuted — not really. This was on me. I had tried with everything I had, and — I had failed.
My wife knew all of this, of course; she had watched me lose sleep and lose health over the preceding 14 months. I had called her to tell her, earlier in the day, what had happened: she listened, but didn’t offer any advice. It was our normal night to go out on a date (Thursday) but I didn’t figure I would be great company; she suggested we eat at home, which I agreed to. I had to clean up some things for my move at work; I slumped into the house about 9:45 PM, and saw dinner on the table, with wine and candles. I did not, however, see her.
I went back to the bedroom, where I found her waiting.
“Hello,” she said, casually.
“Well — hi, yourself,” I said, somewhat taken aback. I sat down next to her, brushing her hair back from her face.
“I wanted you to know – tonight, right now — that losing things does not make you a loser, not in my eyes. Because you fight, everyday, for what you think is right, and I’m so, so, very proud of you.”
I looked into those beautiful dark eyes of hers. For that one moment, I was not a failure, I was a prince.
A very lucky prince.