Saying Goodbye

We are quickly nearing our last few days in London, and it’s definitely bittersweet to leave. London is obviously an amazing city. We were so lucky to get this post (and first, no less), and are pretty much forever thanking the assignment gods for this one.

M has made an enormous amount of contacts that are so experienced, knowledgable, and generally awesome colleagues. I had the opportunity to work for almost the entire tour. The job was stressful, but I learned a ton, worked with some really amazing people, and made some great friends. And well – it was nice to have an income. 🙂

On a sadder note, I need to address something that happened about 2 weeks ago now at work. It affected me in more ways than I thought, so I’m hoping that writing about it might be a little therapeutic.

We all got to work and were about 30 minutes into our work day, when commotion started in the background, and I saw my manager run past. I had no idea what was going on, nor did most of us in the near vicinity. It turned out that a colleague that was on our team for the summer – in London on a TDY assignment – was having what seemed to be a heart attack. He had gone back to his desk to sit and rest, because he had been feeling sick the whole morning. Others noticed he didn’t look well. And then someone noticed he was unconscious.

He was an older gentleman – in his early 60’s. He had been to London before on TDY several times, was well-loved by the local staff and known for his dapper dress style. 🙂 He was a retired officer, but still one who loved his former career and traveling, and wanted to continue working on TDY assignments.  He was always the first one to start work in morning. Our desks were next to each other, so we would chat occasionally in the afternoons. He was very friendly, and I’m sad that I didn’t make more of an effort to chat and get to know him better. My last memory of him was him asking me the names of the some of the other members of our team who sat in the other pod of desks. He didn’t get as much of a chance to talk to them, so he wanted to make sure he learned who everyone was, and learned as much about them as he could. He wrote all of their names down as I told him who each was. He also told me that he had gotten to meet my husband during a team event that day, and thought that he was great. I happily agreed.

Two members of our team started giving him CPR immediately. The med unit at post, which has an amazing staff, was called up and immediately took over, eventually using a defibrillator, which is not something I ever want to see or hear again. An ambulance was called, and we rushed to move everything out of the way so they could come in with a stretcher. Everyone worked together to make sure that everything that needed to be done was done. I knew I worked with some amazing people, but the calmness and quickness with which everyone moved was insane. After that, all we could do was stand there and wait. It was honestly, the most traumatizing experience of my life. I’ve never had someone have that serious of a medical emergency right in front of me. I don’t think most people have. And once I had a chance to reflect, it made me understand just a semblance of what people in hardship posts – and what the military goes through – way too often. It was awful. He eventually passed away at the office. He was never stable enough to be moved to an ambulance.

We’ve had some time now, but it hit the section and obviously his family, really hard. Coming back to work two days later and seeing the empty desk was, and still is, hard. But you keep on truckin’, as we always do. At the very least, it made me even more proud to be a part of State, even in my lowly EFM job. 🙂

So as we prepare to leave post, we’re excited and nervous and grateful. I think this made us want to appreciate every second of this experience just that much more.

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