“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

“Please come up to the fifteenth floor” said my boss. “OK” I said, and I hung up.

I had survived many mornings of lay-offs. But 30 minutes later I was standing on the street. Unemployed.

At first, I felt shame.

Shame that I didn’t care that I had lost my job. I didn’t have a mortgage or people who depended financially on me. I had my health, education and a family who could support me.

I was invincible.

But I wasn’t.

“Have you lost your job?” said my mother, suspicious of my ambiguity and mid-morning call. I couldn’t bring myself to answer her, and she knew it. “Come and meet me at 3pm and we can go for tea.”

Early that evening, my sister walked up the stairs outside my bedroom and was surprised to see me. I usually worked late.

“I… I…” I knew I had to tell her, I looked down. “I was made redundant.” 

It was the first time I had said it. “Oh, don’t worry,” she said with false optimism being kind, “everything is going to be alright.” She gave me a hug.

I started to cry as she walked out my bedroom. I cried all evening.

I cried because I felt I had done nothing for my family, and then, when I had failed, my family showered me with love and kindness. What made me cry was not the humiliation of losing my job, but the grief caused by unconditional, undeserved love.

I want to live my life with gratefulness to and awareness of the people who love me. 

I don’t only want to miss the water when the well runs dry.

— Cordelia Shackleton