OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Footprints in the snow

Snow makes a flashlight irrelevant.  Even without a moon to shine, and of clouds to mask the twinkling stars, somehow the pure whiteness allows for visual acuity.  At dawn, the footprints betray the activity that once was; and the current inactivity shadowed by the early morning yawn makes one wonder: who noticed, and what if I were standing quietly under the elm tree, making myself a part of the stiff objects in the wintry twilight?

It is similar to the Zen query of the Sixties — of a falling tree with no one around, and the pondering: Was there a noise?  And then the rush of activity as the daylight dominates and the darkness recedes and the purity of the blanket of white that once betrayed the footprints in the snow is replaced by human trudging, winds blowing and the mere vestiges that are now only images in one’s memories.

People are born daily, live their lives and die; and like footprints in the snow that appear for a moment in history’s unmentioned footnotes, they disappear with barely a trace but a few words in the obituaries. Oh, try as we may in our futile attempts at being remembered — of graveyards with larger stones; of “memorials” pasted on the back windows of cars; or even of yearly vigils; the fact is that we are mere footprints in the snow.  Yet, what is important is that the footprints did, in fact, once exist, even if the windswept vanishing of once-seen imprints disappear like vapors of steam curling into the midnight sky.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is sometimes like footprints in the snow — you realize that you were once “relevant” in this world and that the Federal Agency once looked upon you as a “valuable member of the team”; but now, you are treated as the windswept footprints that were once clearly visible in the snow, and now no longer.

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is the last act before the wind sweeps away the footprints; it is a means of recognizing what is important in life, and to focus upon your health and well-being and to leave behind the footprints in the snow that are so easily forgotten in the hubbub of the world’s daily activity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire