At the office I told two people: Harry Smith, my wonderful coanchor, with whom I've always been close; and Jahayra, my trusty lieutenant. Both of them looked at me in shocked disbelief. It's strange, because I was still not visibly upset or in tears, partly because the news had to remain quiet, at least for the time being. But halfway into my conversation with Harry, he got up from behind his desk and gave me a bear hug.
That's when I lost it. I mean, I really broke down, with that heaving, sobbing sort of crying.
I wasn't angry, just incredibly sad.
I gave Harry another hug, and then hurried into my own office to change. Cole's class was leaving for its field trip, with or without me. Life goes on. Fired or not, I'd already signed on to be one of the class mommies on Cole's field trip, and class mommy I was going to be. No matter what!
During the ride to join Cole's class, my emotions veered wildly. (My driver, mercifully, did not.) At first I had to deal with the sheer, immense shock of what had happened. Obviously, since all of us on The Early Show had been told there'd be changes, we'd been expecting something. But I hadn't thought that when the music stopped I'd be the one without a chair.
Then there was this alternating sense of relief because I realized I would soon be spared the three thirty a.m. wake-up calls.
Then, just as quickly, I had to deal with crashing waves of worry about how this overnight change in my job status might translate into a drastic change in lifestyle. I know I can cope with change; I always have. But dealing with sudden changes is often not always so easy for kids who are prone to worrying about the stability in their lives, especially when the rug has suddenly been pulled out from under the feet of one or both of their parents. Plus, kids always want to know the details, especially the "why." At this point there was no good "why" associated with my sudden shift in status.
Before I knew it, we'd arrived a few minutes ahead of the class at a theater where they were going to enjoy a lesson in filmmaking. So there I stood, light rain falling on my head, with no umbrella and no job.
Had I been a smoker, this would have been an ideal time to suck two butts. And a martini, for that matter.
Instead, I got something a whole lot better. When the bus pulled up, Cole was one of the first to bound off. As soon as he saw me, he shrieked "Mommy! Mommy!" and ran over to me, throwing his arms around my waist.
At that moment I knew there was nothing wrong with me and that I would be okay.
That hug, at least for the moment, was all the cure I needed.