When I met my boss Leigh Campbell for the first time, it was only her second day in the office.
She was everything I looked forward to being ‘when I grew up’ and I recognised her face from the glossy beauty pages of the Cosmopolitan magazines that arrived in my letterbox every month.
I didn’t get time to do my nails, but I washed and blow dried my hair that morning and put more effort into my makeup than I normally would for work. Leigh was a beauty editor, after all.
Working with her that day was a career highlight, a dream come true. She was warm and generous and made me feel like she was excited to meet me, which is how you hope but don’t always expect meeting your idol will go.
That was months ago, and while I know her better now, I often think about the impression Leigh made on me that day.
Last Sunday, sitting in front of the TV, I read the latest posts in Leigh’s series about her experiences with infertility Treading Water. (You can read it from the beginning here, it’s brilliant.)
The final post was called The Worst Day. The Worst Day was the day we met.
“My second day [at Mamamia] was my due date. I spent the day picturing what would have been happening in my parallel life and I wanted to be anywhere but where I was,” she wrote about the baby she never got the chance to meet.
“I dried my eyes in a meeting room and sat back at my desk and interacted with my team like everything was fine. I went to meetings like everything was fine. I so desperately wanted to get up and leave – but it wasn’t physically where I was I wanted to get away from – it was my life. But I pretended everything was fine.”
Yesterday, my co-worker was late to work. I’d noticed she wasn’t at her desk, and when she arrived a couple of hours into the work day, I wondered if she was OK. I didn’t ask though. Better to leave her be, I thought.
That afternoon, I gave her a wave through the glass window of a meeting room – she was going home early. She smiled, but it didn’t touch her eyes the way hers normally would.
Later, I found out through her Instagram story she’d accepted a plea deal from a man who assaulted her at a concert several months ago.