As I look back on my experience this past summer, my mind has separated it all into three segments of time.
I’ve even given each a title (of course I have…I’m so melodramatic like that, if you haven’t noticed thus far). Segmenting time and giving each a title has somehow made it easier for me to handle. It’s as if I’ve put each of these time periods in a jeweled and priceless treasure box for safe keeping. Locked each precious box with a Golden Key.
I’ve tucked those keys away in the recesses of my heart.
Because I know that every time I unlock one of these treasured boxes, new and valuable lessons will rise up and wrap around me with awe and wonder.
The inside of each box is bottomless, you see. There is no end to the gifts inside.
I know that as I continue to heal…I will see the contents with more clarity. There are layers upon layers of revelation waiting for me. I must have clear eyes to see them. To embrace them. To appreciate them.
I don’t want to lose any of it. Any of the memories and the miracles of it all.
Even if it didn’t turn out like I had hoped.
If you’ve read along from my first post, you’ve just had a glimpse into what I’ve titled Hospital Days.
Those fifteen days were filled with some of the most incredible experiences of my life. Just incredible. I have so much more to tell you. I will step back into them here and there in posts to come.
The remaining segments are what I have titled Hotel Days and Home Days.
Right now I am in the lifelong stretch of Home Days. For the rest of my life Home Days. And man, there are so many lessons and insights to share with you. They continue to multiply each and every day. These Home Days are the fabric of the After Effects. The Real Deal. The Reality of it all sinks in a little more every second…every day.
That first day was a full day after Michael died. He died a bit before 7 AM and we had those precious four hours before they took him away. We left the hospital somewhere between 11 and noon. I remember seeing groups of soldiers and family standing around outside in the parking lot. Heads down. Talking quietly.
No one really knowing what to do next.
I retrieved the keys to Michael’s truck. I had never been in it. Not once.
Inside, it sure smelled like him. One of his Army caps was on the dash. A CD in the player. It was pretty much a mess. For sure. I remember thinking how he used to keep everything so neat and clean. This was evidence that he simply let go of all of that in his last days.
Yes, it was a total mess…but a beautiful one.
I gave the keys to Mike’s oldest daughter. Allowed her to drive his truck. She had never been in it, either. It was the three of us then, driving away from that hospital. My oldest granddaughter, my daughter, and me.
We decided that we should get some lunch. Sit down and take all of this in.
After, we had no choice but to go back to the hotel. And wait.
We waited for family members who were on their way to us.
I want to say that I am so glad I was in that hotel. That hotel not even a block away.
Because I could see the hospital from the window at the end of our second floor hallway.
I remember I would step outside my hotel room and turn to the right. Go to the window and look through the slats of the blind. How I longed to be back there. Back in the hospital.
My son was still there.
And let me tell you…if I could have stayed in a room at that hospital, I would have. You would not have been able to pull me away. Even if it was on that basement floor of the morgue. I swear I would have pulled up a chair outside that morgue door and slept right on it. It may sound creepy to most of you…but I don’t care.
My boy was still in that hospital. I wanted to be there, too.
But the closest I could come was to stay in that hotel not even a block away.
And look out the window.