by Carmen H Gray

Last night I decided to go back to revisit the wound and give thanks to those underappreciated people who stand guard over the children who suffer, fight, overcome or do not and the families who echo all of those actions of their children.

I drove up to the familiar building and walked in to the smell of chemicals and surgery.  The warmth of the wooden floors, an attempt to grant the victims of life’s bewilderments a sense of sanctuary.  I passed by the surgery check in, where memories flooded my whole being.

I found the elevators, not where I remembered them being, already the lay out of a once familiar place not so familiar anymore.  I walked into Four North, and looked for the usual faces.  I remember the face of a mother whose eyes I would meet with the same look of fear of being in an uncontrollable situation we were both faced with, but to my irrational surprise, she was no longer there.  In fact, there were not many familiar faces at all, only one nurse on duty who I remembered and who recalled me.

I handed her the picture I had chosen of my survivor child and of me, the survivor mother, some stickers for the children, a note of gratitude and some chocolate croissants for the nursing staff.  The night staff was always especially patient and I knew that job was probably the hardest.  It was always night when I would ride out the chemotherapy with her, in between gracious spells of rest.  The best nurses would be the ones who tried their best to be like quiet ninjas, moving in and out of the room to check her vitals and administer the seemingly unending medications to counter the negative effects. I left after a brief conversation, walking past the newest troop of young patients donning the masks to protect their immune systems.

What did I feel?  I felt…..relief.  Appreciation.  Closure.  I recognized all of the changes that had synthesized inside me over the past year.  Thank you hospital, for housing her.  Thank you meditation garden, thank you pharmacists, doctors, nurses, assistants, cleaning staff, warm blankets, therapy dogs, music therapists, volunteers, families, life and death and everything in between.

I drove home in the Ordinary World.  Traffic, a homeless man begging change at the light, an irritated driver, the cool relief of just another evening in October.  The beauty in the mundane.

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