The memory of place

As I jogged from the parking lot to the young survivors’ meeting tonight, I felt amazingly good, breathing fresh air, moving at a pace that my mind and body set together, one not defying the wishes of the other, sure to arrive at my meeting with minutes to spare.  I took each loping step with purpose, thrilling in the ability to hurry, which I had not been able to do for many months.  As I kept moving, passing the lounge where I used to wait, passing the closer entrance, passing the valet parking sign, I breathed in and out evenly, relishing my pace.

And then, I stopped short.  There was the parking space where WhyDaddy used to leave the car so he could help me to the door, just feet away.  There was the sign that I leaned on, more than once, while he handed the keys to the attendant and then rushed to take my arm.  There was the second sign, the one where I collapsed just a few months ago.

Just a few months ago, I was right here, in front of this hospital, when I was forced to admit that I could no longer walk.  I needed a wheelchair.

I remember that day like it was yesterday.  Without even checking that day’s post, I remember every. single. detail.  The effort that it took to walk the steps from the car to curb, even with my husband’s help.  The eternity that passed while he was away from me, getting our laptop bags out of the car.  The sensation that I was falling, falling, falling, when my legs buckled and refused to support me. 

The way that WhyDaddy became WonderDaddy, dropping his bag and mine and running inside to get help.  The seconds that felt like hours while I held on to the post, willing help to come, watching the world pass me by in an instant.  The speed at which he ran back to me, pushing a wheelchair as if it were weightless, catching me in it before I fell.  The calmness of his manner, the ease with which he thanked the valet for the loan, and the grace with which he found our laptop bags again and slung them over his shoulders.

The way that he made me feel that it was no big deal to be 34 and so sick that I needed a wheelchair.

I learned a lot that day about how we treat people who are different from us.  I felt abandoned when my partner accidentally turned away, and a swell of gratitude when he returned and parked himself across from me so we could talk.  I panicked when parked facing a cold wall, primitive terror striking me with the thought that I couldn’t see anyone or anything else in the room.  I watched as hospital personnel ignored me, talking to my partner about my affairs, as if my brain were as dysfunctional as my legs.  I remember the looks of pity that just about broke my heart.

Do not pity me, I thought.  This is only temporary….

15 Responses to The memory of place

  1. NYfriend says:

    I have goose bumps.

    Amazing, all of it, especially you two.

  2. Dawn says:

    Your writing style puts me in your shoes, both today and those weeks ago. I feel the chills. I am there. You’re incredibly strong to be able to recall this with such clarity and now with such … courage? I don’t know what I’m trying to say – but thank you for saying it!

  3. debra says:

    Remarkable post. Thank you for continuing to bring us with you on this journey.

  4. kdw says:

    you are an amazing woman. Your stories inspire me! Keep on healing!

  5. Sarah S. says:

    Your post brought me to tears! You have such a way with words. I felt as if I was standing there watching. You have come so far. It sounds like you need to start traing for a marathon. Or maybe just race for the cure:) Keep on Joggin!

  6. Katherine says:

    See now I liked the whole wheelchair thing. I made my mom push me down the long hall in the basement while I raced others similarly restricted. It sucked and I thought I’d never keep my lunch down, but I was the crazy chemo clown determined to make it funny.

    Of course, the first time I was able to walk a full twenty minutes on the treadmill post-chemo was one of the best days of my life.

    You’re doing great!

  7. I don’t think there was ever pity–but certainly admiration and inspiration. And look how far you’ve come now!

  8. canape says:

    I think that as much as your fight and recovery are an inspiration, that your marriage is tenfold that.

    Your boys are lucky to have such an amazing model of a beautiful marriage – as are their future wives.

    Your friends are lucky too.

  9. tracey says:

    Not sure what to write after that lovely and sad entry, but it was beautiful and vivid. Your husband sounds like a true love story…

  10. Maggie, dammit says:

    This is stunning. I don’t know what to say.

    Beautifully written.

  11. NoRegrets says:

    It’s amazing how a simple thing such as a wheelchair changes how people treat you.

    And you’ll continue to get these PTSD moments, but you are strong and will move past them.

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  13. Bon says:

    i wept reading this, friend.

    not with pity, either…with empathy and recognition, though of a different hospital experience. it is amazing how visceral memory is, and how vulnerable it makes you to encounter previous incarnations of yourself just when you are feeling almost strong and present.

    when i was on hospitalized bedrest with O, Dave was able to take me out and about the city a few times, in the wheelchair. only children would look me in the eye. i learned a great deal about being human on those sojourns.

    holding you close.

  14. clifford says:

    dern skippy it’s temporary.

  15. Ally says:

    More than anything else in your writing, I’ve savored the love that you and your husband, and you and your boys, share for eachother. Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your hearts.

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