Friday, January 11, 2008

What's behind door #4

I don't remember where I heard it said, but it certainly seems true that you know you're a grown-up when it seems like all you do is attend weddings and funerals. I also don't know where I heard it said (I think it was someone here), but it certainly is true that time will drag you along into the future whether you want to go or not.

Yesterday was my follow-up appointment with Dr. A. and I was struck by the stark differences between today and when this journey began. Back then, the trees were full and green. The weather was turning warmer and summer was beckoning us to come out and play. The demolition had just begun on the bridge along the highway between my house and the hospital. I was so sad and scared.

I always thought the summer after losing Alex was the longest summer of my life. It turns out, the summer of 2007 was worse. And as fall approached, I remember noting the changes in the weather and the trees. I kept track of the progress of the bridge construction because, in my mind, each piece being replaced could be the potential marker of my own personal disaster. I wanted to remember each tiny detail just in case that day, that moment, brought my world crashing down again.

I will always remember the images of the summer and autumn of 2007 now...but for a different reason. The changing colors on the trees were spectacular. The autumn weather was beautiful. And the bridge construction proceeded beautifully. A giant hulking skeleton being built high above the river below...piece by mammoth piece. And yesterday, when I drove by, I actually saw the last piece being lifted into place, complete with American flag...the traditional ironworker salute to a job complete.

I walked through the parking garage and into the hospital, pushing Myles in his stroller, without a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My feet felt lighter than they ever had on any of my previous visits. And I suddenly realized that, for the very first time, I didn't have fear as my companion as I entered those doors and rode the elevator to the fourth floor.

Dr. A. hugged me and kissed my cheek and wished me a Happy New Year. I returned the gesture, we chatted, and as we were saying goodbye I told him that I hoped he wasn't offended if I said I hoped not to see him for a long time. He smiled and said we'd stay in touch no matter what.

It felt like a door was closing...and despite my joy at being done with that part of things, a piece of me wanted to beat my fists against the door and scream and cry. This is how it ends...this part of my life. And I hate it. I hate my own story. I hate what is behind that door. I hate that that door is closed with all the details behind it. Though someone told me to take note that the door isn't locked, I'm not sure I would ever be strong enough to open it and invite the fear to visit again. And I hate that too.

But there is no time to be self-indulgent and cry. Because in true time-keeps-ticking fashion, I walked out of the hospital and started planning to attend my grandpa's funeral.

I wish I could have figured out a way for sadness to go sit with fear behind that door I closed. But I'm lighter without fear in tow...so I'll deal with the sadness...yesterday's, today's, and tomorrow's.

3 comments:

Bon said...

amazing post, Catherine...poignant and true. i imagine, when i hopefully get to that place where i can close my own version of that door behind me, i will feel very much as you did. joy and grief, and a strange finality to it all being over and still never resolved.

thinking of you as you make your way through the sadness, all of it.

Aurelia said...

You will be able to visit again if you ever need to. And the sadness diminishes over time. You have crossed quite a threshold, and made it to the other side.

It will just take time now, time and space.

Julia said...

So poignant. And what an image that bridge is.
I don't expect the sadness to ever leave completely, but I am so glad for you that the fear is gone.
It's a delicate balance, I imagine, and you never know when or whether you will be overwhelmed one day by the need to knock on that door again.