I first “met” Amy Stevens 18 months ago at Life From The Trenches. Amy’s blog commonly features stories about her life with her husband and their children. Amy has lofty goals of growing a garden, frequently uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism, always wears socks in hotel rooms, sometimes says “Amen” at the end of The Pledge of Allegiance, and pretends to eat peas in front of her children.
Amy lives in Joplin, Missouri, and it is an understatement to say that her life was rocked in a major way when those tornadoes hit last May. Since then, Amy has been posting intermittently as she has worked tirelessly to rebuild her family home while assisting in rebuilding her community. She continues to provide her children with a sense of faith in a world where nothing is solid. Amy writes about beautiful, messy, and chaotic moments that make ordinary life magic. And she’s hoping to get back into her writing — starting now.
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I don’t know what led me to become a hospice social worker, but it’s been an amazing journey.
I could write about the patients: how they teach me about grace, compassion, gratitude, and provide powerful doses of perspective.
But I’m not going to write about the patients.
I could write about my colleagues.
You want to see radical compassion? Watch a hospice nurse work furiously to ease the pain of a patient. You want to experience mercy? Watch an aide provide care with patience and gentleness. Want to soak in real faith? Watch a chaplain offer a prayer that helps our patients find solid ground to cling to in grief.
But I’m not going to write about my colleagues.
I am going to write about a spaghetti squash.
One of the nurses gave me the squash, a giant one. Leaving the squash on my desk, I went to a meeting debating if this squash called for marinara, sweet sugar and cinnamon, or maybe just some Parmesan. There are so many options when it comes to spaghetti squash.
Fast forward to an hour later. My meeting ended and I walked out to my desk to find that the squash was gone. In its place was this note:
“You’ll never see your gourd again.”
In addition to all the things I said above about my coworkers, they also have sticky fingers.
They also think they’re funny.
And so it began.
I threw out reasonable accusations.
Everyone was a suspect, and everyone looked a bit shady.
They are, in fact, a tad shady.
No one came forward.
Because they’re good. Really good.
I went home and, as any top-notch investigator would, I turned to Facebook.
I posted this completely authentic picture of my poor children with no supper. (Guilt can lead to confessions, and this was no time for mercy.)
My photo was posted along with the following Status Update:
Someone at work stole my spaghetti squash leaving behind the note: “You’ll never see your gourd again.” Tonight my children go hungry: victims of a cold, calculated crime.
Forty-three comments later, I learned my colleagues are not only shady but also willing to throw each other under the bus.
Still, no one came forward with a confession.
I was not surprised.
The following morning, I entered the office to this:
Apparently, my squash had been stolen and passed around the office like some kind of contraband sex toy. The main culprit was a nurse, but no one was innocent in this game — except for my poor, hungry children.
(I wouldn’t feed them dinner until they posed for the Facebook picture. I wanted authentic.)
From the moment I discovered the theft, to the discovery of wide-eyed squash, to my apology over the intercom for accusing innocent people of a heinous crime, there was laughter.
Life hasn’t always been easy in Joplin, Missouri. As a community, we’ve struggled to rebuild ourselves after last year’s tornadoes. And, of course, working in hospice is not easy.
My life has led me to a place where I’m surrounded by people who leave in their wake physical relief and soothed souls. There are no better people to teach how to comfort and how to be comforted through understanding words, soothing touch, and the simple presence of someone not scared away by suffering.
There are many lessons to be found in this tale. Obviously, the first lesson being that one should always secure her squash. But also that life is gritty – often devastating and heartbreaking – so it is important to find joy in the ridiculous, share comfort in a little squash vandalism, and heal through humor.
What’s making you laugh these days? What’s your favorite fall vegetable? How do you like your spaghetti squash? Anyone else have a playful office climate & culture? What kind of fun little pranks have you played at work?
Twit these Twits @rasjacobson & @AmyStevens_