Returning

Returning

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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Letting Go

A Letter To The House

by Carmen H Gray

Thank you for providing a blank slate at first for us.  The yard was dead and ugly. The inside was dreary and dark.  We transformed your stagnant state into rich colors of children’s laughter, joyful gatherings of family and friends, a place to watch my children grow and change.

I remember the trampoline in the backyard, the one my son helped me claim from a Craigslist ad one hot and sweaty summer. The same trampoline when it magically snowed one winter became a plate of white. I foolishly let my children jump on it (slip and slide on the ice, more likely) while wearing costumes I had stitched together for them.

I remember laughter, tears, fights, painting rooms, garage sales, tiling the porch and single-handedly reconstructing the dead space of the front yard into a living and breathing garden of verdant beauty. The sage blooming purple flowers before the rains, the fragrant rosemary and lavender I planted near the porch so visitors would inhale beauty upon entering our home.  Rock roses creeping everywhere.  One summer of giant, colorful zinnias that looked like lollipops in a fairy land.  The silvery artemesia expanding everywhere and inspiring me one summer to drink absinthe. Every fall, watching the brightness fade and die by winter. Every spring, it coming back to life by May’s end.

I remember children’s parties, the tireless preparations, the cleaning, the laughter and the tears, again. I remember hamsters, gerbils and cats and dogs and fights over owning pets and giving them all the care and time they needed. I remember the last years of my college cats’ lives-Wolfie and Layla-were spent mostly at the house across the street, with the sweet, elderly neighbor who was suffering from dementia and enjoyed their company.

I remember the emptiness at the end of it all. Coldness, sadness, loneliness.  And pain.  Lots and lots of pain. Tears. Broken things. Suffocating silence.

I remember you with all of the layers of love, house.  I remember you guarding it all.  And I thank you for that chapter in my life.  The joy and the sorrow.  Living life.

I release you today.  Because all things are just that.  And life is nothing but change, evolution, fluidity, the infinite transformation of energy.