For the last 15 months, I have avoided the hospital where my dad passed away. I’ve had to drive past it many times, although I would even try to avoid that. One time I intentionally drove through the parking lot because I was compelled to do so. I had hoped that I would not ever have to go back inside anytime soon.
Today was the day. My mom is having surgery next week and had to go in for pre-op. I went with her so she wouldn’t have to go alone. My need for her to not be alone outweighed the trepidation that I felt. In fact, I am writing this as I sit in the waiting room and wait for her.
When you spend 12 hours a day or more over a month’s time in a place, there are things you get used to. You learn your way around, you recognize and get to know people, you get used to the sterile smell of the halls and the rooms, the sounds, seeing patients on gurneys, and more.
Neither one of us wanted to walk in there to begin with, and I wasn’t sure what I dreaded most. We had to enter near the emergency room which we knew all too well. Passing the row of parked ambulances brought back a flood of memories. But it wasn’t until we walked in that I realized what would hit me the most. And it was the smell. That sterile smell that I had become accustomed to, and the smell of the soap in the bathroom. To me, sense of smell is very powerful and can be overwhelming, especially in situations like this. These might seem like trivial thoughts to have but when you relate them to the last time you saw someone, it is HUGE.
The last time we were here, we said goodbye to Daddy – and physically left him here. It is one of many thoughts I had that day. I knew it was just his body in that room when we left, and his spirit and all that we loved about him left with us and still remains with us. But at that moment, it felt like we were leaving him, and I hated that.
So to walk back into the same building today that we last saw him in 15 months ago was hard.
Next week we will ALL, I hope, be here as a family as my mom has surgery. No one is alone in this family despite fear, trepidation, and more. The hospital is a great one and everyone here is very kind and patient-oriented. All of this outweighs the bad parts of the walls, rooms, floors, and more that make up the hospital that holds the many memories of pain, loss, and grief we all felt.
I am glad I came with her today, not only to support her, but to get beyond the apprehension of going. The next time we are here, I can focus more on my mom, her surgery, and her recovery. All will be fine.