The Train Has Left The Station

At the very moment my husband was in surgery having his vertebrae fused, my coworkers who are also my friends materialized in the hospital’s family waiting center. So many people wanted to help, they said, and Rebecca organized a meal train to facilitate that. Since the accident, friends have brought or bought our family a meal twice a week, and that is in addition to many others who left behind their 9×13 pans of love. I heard the meal train filled so quickly that people were denied. Those lovely people shut out of the official list sent us restaurant or grocery gift cards. We will not go hungry anytime soon!

The train has left the station for good. Just now, I was washing out the cooler that sat outside our door for almost three months to prepare it for its return to Rebecca’s house. I was reminded again that the accident–a wife and mom’s worst nightmare realized–has also shown me the absolute best in generosity and support from those who surround us.

Thank you. I’ll never be able to repay you—and I hope you NEVER need a meal train. But if you do, I hope you have remarkable people in your lives the way we do.

How do I begin to thank the people who gave us life?  Friends, family, and neighbors showed up and stepped up to do what I either couldn’t literally or “couldn’t” figuratively.  I want every single one of you who sent us even one positive or kind thought to know that it mattered.  I truly believe that those messages were what helped pull my husband through those early days of intensive and acute trauma care.

My sister- and brother-in-law picked up the kids to bring them to the hospital that first terrible, terrible night. My parents dropped everything to arrive at our house before the kids got home from school the day after. My best friend booked a flight and spent “vacation” days here.

Our friend P.J. showed up with a huge, still warm! pan of food for us on the Wednesday after the accident.  I can recall holding that Rubbermaid container against my belly, with tears in my eyes gushing that it was still warm.  How do you thank someone for showing up with sustenance at a time like this? I recall that I lapped it up almost animal-like, barely taking the time even to taste that savory Alfredo sauce as I turned back around to pack up an overnight bag.  Tom had asked me to sleep at the hospital that night before the surgery, and there was nowhere else I could possibly be.  Not that I slept, of course, but semantics, you understand.

Our neighbor Neil brought over the absolute best lasagna I’ve eaten ever in my entire life a day or two later.  I’d thought to ask him for the recipe, but nothing will ever taste as good as that lasagna did to me that week.  I’d never duplicate the taste or supreme satisfaction I derived from every slice.  Since the accident, Neil has taken care of our lawn.  How do I ever repay him for that?  How could he ever possibly know how much it’s meant to me??  I can cut the lawn, and so could have the boys, but Neil did it every time.  Even when I’d mentally say, “OK, tomorrow is grass-cutting day,” I swear he’d be up and running laps in our yard before I could get out there myself.  The weekend prior to the accident, my husband had reseeded the entire yard, and it would have broken me for it to have failed without the care it needed.  Now, thanks to Neil, the green, green lawn will be a lasting testament this “period of time” (The Accident) and the growth that can occur under expert guidance and tender care.  There might be some kind of metaphor there, I don’t know.

Jane picked up my boys so they could just hang out with her boys on a Sunday afternoon, like they did before. And let me tell ya about the garlic bread!

Paul and His Crew of Dudes came over to take our patio set out of winter storage. Sitting on my patio drinking AM coffee or reading under the sun is a slice of happy place for me.  I was elated to be able to sit outside once Tom was released from the hospital.  Even when the breaks I got were brief, sitting outside in the happy place was a break I cherished. 

My Speech cluster colleagues, my former coworkers at Grant, teachers from my son’s school, my husband’s coworkers, neighbors, my son’s baseball team, even strangers! sent gifts for our family.

To the people who sent us those restaurant gift cards, I’m forever in your debt.  Not having to cook in the immediate, with the added bonus of not having to purchase groceries has meant a world of difference this summer.  To the people who sent us money. . .  At first I didn’t get it–I felt like a thief.  Prior to the accident, I didn’t fully understand why people enclosed cash with get-well or sympathy cards.  Oh, but I do now!  To be able to give the kids a couple bucks to run to the store or to buy some goodies at a baseball tournament and not have to hit up an ATM or count the pennies? A gift. I’ve been crabbing about getting docked 7+ days of pay, and while I’m real ornery about that, we have been so fortunate not to have fallen into desperate financial straits.

I almost want to publish a list of names, like an honor roll, but how inadequate and lame is that? I’ve been pretty good about thank you notes and messages via social media, but I know I’m forgetful. I’m sorry to anyone I’ve missed, but know that some form of written thanks is getting there.

I’m back at work, but I don’t know how to “be” now that I’m thrust back into a social arena. Staring at my feet is OK for now, but it won’t work for the long haul. My husband has been released from the neck brace, so the bone breaks are recovering, which couldn’t have come at a better time now that Wendy’s summer Uber project has to be placed on hold. But I never don’t worry. Sometimes I feel that because he has achieved the gains he’s fought for so far, people believe he’s “back to normal.” He’s not. He’s healing, present progressive. Healing to a degree I’d never have dreamt three short (but really long!) months ago. Still it’s been only three months. You bet I worry.

I know there’ve been an abundance of quotation marks in this post. Sorry, but there’s still no font for my tone of voice. If you know me, you know how to “read” me. And if you don’t, I bet what you imagine isn’t too far from my heavily-inflected, maybe a bit quieter these days though vocal tone reality. Anyway.

Thank you.

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What Doesn’t Kill You Sometimes Does Anyway

I remember thinking it would kill me when the economy tanked in 2008 and my husband was laid off. Not too long thereafter, I thought it would kill me when my husband got re-hired during that recession, but worked a mandatory ten hours-per-day six or seven days a week while my older son was in K4 and my baby was still in day care.

I thought it would kill me when the benefits and pay structure along with the respect once enjoyed by educators were upended in early attempts to dismantle public education here. I felt similarly when my boss and my four close colleagues retired on the same day leaving the cheese to stand temporarily alone.

I thought it would kill me when our son’s neurologist told us he had muscular dystrophy.

I thought it would kill me when I arrived in the emergency department, but was not allowed to see my husband for hours, being told only that he knew my name and phone number which was a “good sign.” It nearly did kill me when I finally was let in the ED, my husband lying in that massive hospital bed, barely coherent using 1-2 word phrases to communicate how much pain he felt. I didn’t know where I could even touch him so broken was he.

I thought it would kill me to rifle through the bags of his bloody, cut-up clothing searching for his car keys upon returning home that horrible night.

I thought it would kill me when Nurse Jen wheeled Tom away to surgery, knowing it could be the last time I ever saw him alive.

I thought it would kill me when my husband’s brain injury erased the man I knew and loved for a few days.

I thought it would kill me to leave my children in the dust, in a distant, distant second place to their father with his myriad needs when I practically moved into the hospital just when they needed me practically more than ever in their lives.

I thought it would kill me when I changed his neck brace in preparation for when they entrusted his post-discharge care to me. Then I had to change the brace daily. I was undone when I helped him shave for the first time.

I thought it would kill me when I randomly discovered that my wages had been docked, and that I owed my employer another week of pay despite the more than 1,300 sick hours I’ve accrued over a nearly three-decade career.  You’d think someone would’ve, at the very least, had the decency and professionalism to tell me.  Being forced to make any significant life decision while hovering around the surgical ICU is not going to yield the most sound results.


It’s gonna kill me when I have to break my baby’s heart later today delivering what will be bitterly disappointing news.

I can’t bear the thought of returning to work tomorrow, leaving my husband’s side for the first time since May 7, forcing my sons into the caregiver role.

It will kill me.  And it won’t.

For myself, I’ve done and accomplished exactly nothing this summer. There is, I hope for my sons, one takeaway: that I tried.  I tried to do everything I could for the people I love most in this world.  It was messy, it involved a lot of uncertainty and tears (but never a major meltdown), but when life deals you a superbly lousy hand, you’ve no choice but to play it. I hope one day they remember not my tears and our fears, but that I cared for their dad when his life depended on it.  I hope against hope neither of them ever again have to endure another trauma such as they’ve faced as adolescents with their dad’s accident and its aftermath. But if they do, I hope they remember seeing how their mom took every hit and kept getting up.  I hope they’ve learned to be grateful and say thanks to those who offer and step in to help.  I’ve tried.

People say I’m strong.  I don’t know about that, but I know I keep doing what I have to do.  Is that what strong is?

Game Over

This year’s baseball season is in the books. Nothing in 2019 went his way, but my kid? He showed up. Even when he thought his dad was going to die, he showed up. Even when his mom was an absolute wreck pretty much every day, he showed up. Except for the very last one, he never missed a practice; he never missed a game, and even though his parents were barely able to show up, he still did.

He doesn’t show high emotion, he takes it all in—the kind, quiet nature that makes my baby a terrific teammate and a genuinely good human being will likely stand in the way of his excelling as an athlete.

Here’s to finishing what you’ve started and to the good people who brought you to the finish line. Thank you all.

Ain’t Nothing Fair About Any Of This

I’m not naive enough to believe that life is “fair.”  I’m a grown up after all.

But it does feel especially unfair to have to pay my employer for the days I took off from work to be with Tom while he was hospitalized.  I’m a hard-working, loyal employee–I would have to be near death to call in sick to work myself, ask my colleagues.  Even with two paid maternity leaves in my work lifetime, the bank of sick hours I’ve accrued is enormous.  Ridiculous, really.  I show up.  The occasions I do call in to work are for when my children are sick or have appointments during the day.  Oh, and there was that time my husband was nearly killed a few months back.

I learned yesterday that not only did I get docked three days pay from my last paycheck (which I’d believed was being made right), I actually have to pay them back.  I literally have to give them back another week’s worth of pay.  I don’t get paid over the summer, so I have something like a negative balance, and will owe them money once I begin working again.  I have to PAY MY EMPLOYER to get to work there, which is pretty much the opposite of how I thought this going-to-work system was set up.  I owe them money.  THAT, friends, is not right.

Every detail from the first call I got saying there’d been an accident to my wait in the emergency department before being allowed to see my bloody, broken husband for the first time to signing informed consent for neurosurgery to watching him suffer more intense pain than any man should have to endure to losing his personality and memory to regaining some of that personality and memory to the panic of watching him walk again to the sheer terror of being responsible for his care upon discharge to everything he’s lost and we’ve lost as a family has been running through my consciousness on this constant loop since I’ve come to grips with this ludicrous payroll information.  I’m reliving my own real life horror movie, and I can’t stop crying.  I do believe this is the part where I, at long last, completely lose my mind.

The truth?  I was sick while he was in the hospital. It would not have been dishonest to have called in sick for me for every day I missed work to be with him  My heart was broken, and I was disoriented.  I couldn’t eat or sleep and my head hurt all the time.  I was legitimately sick, but it was pretty obvious that the underlying etiology of this particular strain of illness was my husband’s accident.  But because I didn’t call myself in, I’d exhausted my allotment of sick time allowed for the care of others per the employee handbook.  So it’s my fault.  It’s not enough that this nightmare accident threw our lives into chaos, there’s this added bonus of feeling like the fucking idiot for not knowing better.  I’d hashtag “epic fail,” but I’m not feeling particularly cute about this.  I’m beaten.  I surrender.

The moral of the story apparently is this:  Lie.  Everyone else does.

I received hundreds of loving, supportive text messages while I held vigil over my husband in the ICU, but one keeps coming back to me this morning.  A friend told me how unfair this all was, the accident and its fallout.  I remember texting in reply to her, “Ain’t nothing fair about any of this.”  Nope.  Not one thing.

Dumpster Fire

Sometimes dark humor pulls a girl from dark days into the light. Some days dark humor provides enough to keep me putting one foot in front of the other. My little one introduced me to term “dumpster fire” the other day, and I’ve adopted it as the perfect descriptor for my state of mind. And also, I found three different Bitmojis to illustrate. Here’s one–

While my husband was hospitalized, it seemed like a different household item went kaput each day.  When I arrived home from the ICU late the night of the accident, I clicked on the lamp on my nightstand.  The bulb buzzed for a nanosecond before giving up for good.  You might think I’d have done something so easy as change that light bulb, but I didn’t even have that in me.  How many electricians’ wives does it take to change a light bulb??? More than one anyway.

Getting dressed the next morning, I pulled the cord of my closet light, only to have the cord shake loose from the fixture and land in my hands. How does one dress for a day in the ICU anyway?  Now I couldn’t even see into the closet, but I know that at that point, I couldn’t have cared less about my outfit.

Since the day, the side mirror from our car was smashed off (surprisingly not my doing), the dog knocked over a table lamp, pieces and parts scattered, my car battery died, my car’s backing camera is on the fritz, the dog went through a window screen, the rain gutters overfloweth, and a panel of glass from our back door shattered and fell to the ground.

My baby FaceTimed me while I idled in my husband’s hospital room asking how to put a temporary patch on the window.  When I reported back, Tom instantly went into obsession mode, cooking up an idea to replace not only the single panel of glass, but also to replace the entire six-panel leaded frame with a custom art glass piece to fit the colorful theme of our house.  Any modern designer would burst into heart palpitations seeing our orange living room, inside of an avocado-colored dining room, cider-tinted kitchen, and golden hallways and basement.  WE love it, but then we don’t pray to the HGTV 2019 color palette the way the rest of the world seems to.  Anyway, Tom had an idea.  And at that stage in his recovery, whatever idea he held was locked in with a death grip.

Tom phoned a stained glass artist with whom we met shortly after his homecoming.  Tom described what he’d envisioned (it WAS awesome!), and the glass artist returned some sketches.  Together they came up with a clean, colorful, beautiful design.  Fabrication began and yesterday, six-plus weeks after concept, the glass was installed.  It turned out exactly as I’d seen it in my mind, better really.  It turned out exactly as my husband had hoped, and he smiled each time he walked past it since the install.

His accident occurred over two months ago already.  So much has happened since that first day.  So much needs yet to happen to find equilibrium again. A bright new window maybe triggers brighter, less dumpster-y states of mind?? That’s my hope.

I’m pathetic company these days, even my friends are tired of me. And while my social calendar wasn’t exactly buzzing from May 7 til now because, you can imagine, my time’s been heavily booked otherwise, I’m not seeking company either.  I know I’m a super downer. I find myself reliving the accident, well reliving MY experience of the accident quite a lot, and I’m sad.  A lot.  And, as I told a friend, I feel like any trace of complaint I would voice is a betrayal of the HE DIDN’T DIE lottery ticket I held back on May 7. 

And I’m mad.  A lot.  The incident was truly accidental; I know this.  I haven’t for one second believed it to be anything but an accident.  My husband apologizes over how the accident has changed my summer plans, and I’m practically shouting back that the accident changed OUR ENTIRE LIVES!!

I knew we’d get here, here being the period of time just west of imminent danger–when the relief of having survived is supplanted by rehab and the reality of the permanency of his injuries. And though I am no fun whatsoever, I am so damn happy I still have a husband, because it wasn’t a guarantee.

My friends say I’m strong. I want to want to feel happy and normal-ish, but instead I kinda want to slog through a pool of woe-is-me for a brief while. I know I should want to be dancing on rooftops, thanking the stars above (and oh, every day til this week, I have been!!), but meh is me.

To me, this window represents light and cheer and holy crap, he didn’t die. I call it the “You Didn’t Die Window” and I love it.

Let there be light. Please.

I Miss

I miss being an automobile passenger

I miss not being in a constant state of heightened awareness

I miss the perfectly ridiculous/ridiculously perfect lasso dance

I miss having a handyman to repair the long list of items damaged, dying, or dead since the accident (reading lamps, automobile mirrors, window screens, door glass panels, car batteries, gutters, overhead light pulls)

I miss his smile

I miss the boisterous, sassy cacophony that my three trash-talking, wrestling boys can generate, four boys I guess when the dog joins the fracas

I miss running errands whenever

I miss receiving his full paycheck, with the overtime that can build during the summer months’ long daylight

I miss feeling like I can answer, “How are you?” honestly

I miss asking others how they are

I miss the safety of a hug so tight it’s almost hard to breathe

I miss when I thought muscular dystrophy was the toughest thing I would ever have to face

I miss watching all seven innings of my son’s baseball games

I miss before

I Don’t Own All The Sadness

Friends and family members ask me a very simple question all the time.  I’m adept at skirting the question though.  I have a thousand other pieces of news to report in response to “How are you?” without actually answering the hardest question in the world.

When your world is turned upside down by a catastrophic accident, it’s easy to become single-sighted. In my defense, with a little (a lot!) of help from my friends and family, I have managed to get my children to all the places they’ve been expected or required since my husband’s hospitalization and rehab. My “single-” sightedness is maybe more accurately single-family sightedness. Everything I’ve done since May 7 has been done with the goal of meeting Tom’s and the kids’ needs first.

I’m physically spent, knocking out my step goal every single one of the forty-one days since the accident. For the first time in a decade, I’m actually sleeping well. Annihilating exhaustion will do that to a girl, I guess. My brain, the hub of our family’s organization scheme, is numb from overuse.

Though my brain and body are in constant motion, I’m forced to admit my brain is not necessarily firing on all cylinders. I realized two weeks ago how very egocentric, or only MY family-centric, I’ve become. But life doesn’t stop for the rest of the world just because mine has been dealt complete upheaval.  As the saying goes, life goes on.  It does, and ours is not the only story in which bad things happen.

To my friends who have lost dear, dear aunts, grandmothers, and mothers-in-law since May 7, I’m so sorry. I’ve sent cards and expressed my sympathy to my friends, but not in the timely way I’d have liked.

To my friend whose mother’s health scare led her to the emergency department, and was subsequently hospitalized only to emerge with a cancer diagnosis, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for your mom, for your family, and for you. I should never have unloaded my own tale of woe on you. Even though you asked, it wasn’t MY time;it should have been yours. I’m sorry.

To my friend who moved, I’m sorry not to have offered a helping hand or SUV. Moving is extremely stressful, even if it’s good stress, and I could have, at minimum, offered to help with your son, but that didn’t even occur to me until it was too late.

And to the boy who says he is fine, but is clearly struggling in one highly visible, very public aspect of his life, I’m sorry.  As soon as I can, I will do my level best to help you get back to your “A” game.

I don’t own all the sadness in the world right now. Some days digging out from under is unimaginable though. My husband’s recovery is underway–he’s been home a month now and in a major victory, I’ve caused no further harm or injury to him.   He has such a long road to travel though.  I worry just how long I’ll continue to wear my “accident blinders.”  Then a second later, I worry about my return to work.  I’ve been off of work nearly seven weeks and haven’t not worried about my husband for one single second–how on earth will I be able to continue to manage my husband’s needs and work my full time job?

We have the tremendous good fortune to have received love and support from around the globe since the news of his accident broke.  I sincerely hope that each of my friends forced to face their own overwhelming or sad days of late feels the love and support that we have.  I’m sorry I’ve not been 100% up to the task, and though I feel rotten about that, my fingers and toes are crossed in hopes you understand.

 

Father’s Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day in the US.  I’m struggling to capture the right words to detail how happy I feel still to be celebrating my own father along with my husband, whose presence with us wasn’t exactly a guarantee this year.

Happy 1972 from my dad and me!

I don’t recall how the practice began, but our kids are in the habit not of creating greeting cards, but writing notes to us on birthdays and other special occasions.  They’re usually on plain old notebook paper, but at least they have the good grace to remove the spiral shreds along the left margins.  I’ve taught them something at least!

Their sentiments are definitely a step-up from store-bought because they’re from their hearts, so authentic.  Thematically, the kids usually include whatever inside joke our family’s been into.  For a long while, it seemed every card was Three Stooges or Impractical Jokers-themed, but we’ve also gone through the zombie Walking Dead period, obviously Barenaked Ladies-related, and then there was that year Netflix and I moved in to Stars Hollow with The Gilmore Girls.  Anyway.  Their notes are timely and reflect our family’s psyche, or current state of affairs.

Below are excerpts from the kids’ notes to their father on Father’s Day.

I posted these online because they meant the world to me, and simultaneously scared the hell out of me.  Our children seem to have adapted to their new normal.  Immediately after asking how my husband is doing, everyone asks how the kids are doing.  A typical response from me goes something like this: Well, they seem OK, but I can’t be sure.  One of the boys is quiet by nature, so doesn’t give much away, and the other is hot and cold with communication, but overall, I think they’re doing as best they can.

Geez.  What a bunch of BS I peddle.

Their Father’s Day letters to their dad reveal how they’re doing.  But I will stand by my “they seem OK” assessment.  They do.  Teenagers should not have to have a sit-down with their dad about life-altering accidents and crushing injuries, but you don’t get to pick.

I was surprised that a number of my social media peeps believed the “But hey, you didn’t die” was meant in a funny way.  I assure you, that while we are a sarcasm-heavy, humor-first kind of family, there was not a trace of levity in my sons’ heartfelt messages.  They were so scared. So confused.  Thinking your dad may be gone is no joke to them, and they’re living with his solid-but-not-always-pretty rehab every moment they’re breathing.  It’s not something they’re just laughing off.  Gallows humor may be one of my coping mechanisms, but they’re too young or too naive to go down that road yet.

I’ll never know if I got it right for the kids, how I’ve handled things with the accident and since.  But I have tried and will continue to try to do my best for them.  I haven’t lied to them; I’ve been honest without being gruesome or too grave, but at times I’m convinced I’m failing as often as I’m succeeding.  Well, maybe (hopefully?) succeeding a little more than failing.  I’ll give myself that anyway.

Sometimes your kids hand their dad a gift, but that gift turns out to be just what I wanted and fits me perfectly too!  Get well soon.  We all need it!

Thank A Teacher

My kid’s report card made me cry.

In the good way!

Teachers are so undervalued in today’s world, a phenomenon I’ll never understand, and I’m all soft and squishy these days, so not up for a political battle on the war against public educators here.  My children have had the good fortune to have been taught by some talented and thoughtful humans.  They’ve been challenged to think globally and with an eye toward the future.  I’m grateful my children have achieved what they have academically, and look forward myself to their continued growth.

Yesterday was my younger son’s last day of school, and my little one handed me his report card this morning.  The standards-based grading report has about a hundred elements on which kids are evaluated, and they don’t receive grades, but ratings of minimal, basic, proficient, and advanced.  It’s a lot to read, and I get why teachers wouldn’t have to write too much in the way of summary narratives anymore, given how they’re graded on these many different strands.  But, and I’m sure this is no surprise to you, I enjoy the narrative.

One of his teachers always includes a personal message, and I’ve much appreciated those few extra words.  They’ve always been positive, so yeah, obviously I am happier to read them than I would be from another educator less swayed by his quiet, mostly compliant charm, but I take comfort in knowing she really does know my child, strengths and weaknesses alike.

Her final message to my son and I hope to all of his classmates is a message all children need to hear.  I’ve included an excerpt:

I truly appreciated your curiosity.  Always remember you are powerful and you have the ability to change society. Also remember kindness matters and I hope you are always supported and that you support others too.

My end-of-the-year message to her and to all my children’s teachers is this:  Thank you.  I know you’re grading papers and entering grades at midnight or at 4:00 AM, because my phone pings when their grades come in.  I KNOW you’re doing so much more with so much less, and you’re doing much of that on your own time.  Thank you.  Thank you for being good stewards and citizens of the world, promoting that world-view and deviating from the script as discussions and important lessons present themselves.  Thank you for caring about my children, and letting them know they’re cared for.  This year especially, I thank you for caring for me too.  Your support and watchful eyes over my children during my husband’s hospitalization and my absence at home meant the world to me.  Your generous support of our family deserves every accolade (and a raise!).  Thank you.

I joked that I know exactly how my “What I Did This Summer” essay is going to go.  2019 is not gonna be a real barn burner of joyful travel escapades for us, but I sincerely hope my children’s teachers’ summers are filled with joy at every turn.  That they find time to rest and rejuvenate.  To borrow the phrase, I hope they too are always supported to the same degree our family has been.

Kids still write this in their yearbooks, and it tickles me no end.  So here’s my yearbook wish for you:  Stay cool!  I hope you have a good summer!  Friends always!  xoxo

Just Visiting, Thanks

Returned my husband to the hospital today as he begins the next phase in his recovery, the beginning of outpatient therapies.

How is it possible that he lived here for seventeen days, and doesn’t know his way around? Being here is so familiar to me, and though I didn’t live here myself, I did sleep here for a week of his stay. Just writing that feels like an archaeological dig, so long ago it seems from today’s vantage point.

I’m a tour guide for him here though. He has no memory whatsoever of his days in the surgical ICU, and almost none of the acute floor. He doesn’t know where his room on the neurorehab floor was, and he spent ten days there. If you’ve ever wondered whether IV drugs and hospital stays are disorienting, wonder no more.

I was petrified on day one the first few times I called requesting entry into the ICU, but that quickly became routine. I felt whatever is more than petrified when he was transferred to the acute floor. “Stranger in a strange land” captures it decently, but then there too became familiar much too quickly. While I felt he needed 1:1 nursing, that ratio was not how things worked on the floor. Eventually, and by eventually I mean within a half day, I was roaming that unit pretty reliably.

Being transferred to the rehab unit was the worst first day of school ever. We knew the expectations were that he’d work his ass off or be asked to leave. I did not think I’d ever feel comfortable with him there either, but before long, I was granted access to the staff-only supply room to get those styrofoam cups you only find in the hospital for water as he requested them. He was a model patient and I was a model wife. Well, the part about him is true anyway.

So today, staying for just a few hours is a spree, a holiday! I did still check in to the cafeteria to score my hospital beverage, a Kombucha, because apparently this is what I drink when I’m here and some habits die hard. My life was put on hold last month, and I have no sense of time, other than everything “before” seems like a long, long time ago, another lifetime.

But as I travel the halls to set up myself and my Chromebook in the courtyard here while he works, I recognize some distant, frightened, clueless expressions on the faces of people I pass. They are me not at all long ago. People pacing, people fighting back tears, people talking too loudly or whispering into their cell phones expressing, I imagine, their disbelief to their loved ones, and I realize it’s been just over a month, which is no time at all.