Every single night on my way home from work I pass the hospital I spent a considerable amount of time in the fall of 2015. There isn't a night that goes by that I don't think about this post, yet... I haven't taken the time to write it. Is that hospital and those experiences something I want to remember or something I don't want to forget? Aren't those the same things? To me - they are very different.
I want to remember my sound of waves crashing into the shore, I want to remember the excitement of a Christmas morning. I want to remember the day I met and adopted Louie. These are fond memories I hold dear.
I don't want to forget what a parenthesis feels like. I don't want to forget the gut wrenching, dehydrated feeling of a hangover. I don't want to forget what it feels like to be wheeled around in a gurney throughout the halls of a hospital. There is a reason when we refer to September 11th - the "slogan" is "never forget".
What is the difference? From birth, instinctively our role as a human-being can be summarized with just two jobs. The first is learning to fear certain things, and the second is learning to stop fearing certain things. This is psychology - physiology 101. Without going down the rabbit hole of why we remember things the way we do, I know this is a stretch, but I feel I've taken this approach with my memories of late 2015.
I have placed a tremendous value on those, albeit traumatic experiences, as shaping the authenticity of who I am today. It is within me, it is how I am wired now, I do not want to forget, just as I have stopped fearing. At this time in 2015, he was probably 30, a good looking, tall, very kind, black man. He was the orderly at the Hospital. He was the person that would come and get me - he would wheel me through the hallways of the hospital. See, when you are an inpatient in the hospital for some time, you see the guts of the hospital, the dark - empty corridors, the outdoor colorful, peaceful, Aveda facades don't want you to see. You ride in those "service elevators", you roll by the kitchen, the laundry, the storage, you see it all.
Over the weeks, I spent some time with him. We would talk about fit-bits and how he needed one for his job because of how much walking he did. I will never forget the day I was being summoned for, yet another, CT scan, he walked in my room and with such sincere feeling, he said "Dammmmnnn, Girrrrrlllll" - he had been so happy I was discharged a few days earlier, and he wasn't happy to see me back in the hospital with my health failing. As we made our way down the back corridors that day, he told me how he was bummed to see me back in the hospital at my age, and truly wished nothing but for me to get better. His kindness was palpable, he brought extra blankets to make sure I was comfortable on my way down to the chilly IR (interventional radiology) department. He stopped at every bump and eased me over because I was in so much pain - he really cared. He made a difference.
Why? Why do I emphasize not forgetting something so difficult? In fact, medications I was on, during my stay in the ICU actually impairs ones ability to make memories. This time in my life, changed the direction of my life, it change ME. And I think for as pivotal as a time it was, it it is important for me not to dwell in those moments, but also, not to forget the moments. Just as our human nature continues to do it's job of telling us what to fear and not to fear, I continue to remember and, also not forget the fall of 2015. Gratitude is an amazingly powerful force. To this day, every single night, when I pass those back halls of the hospital, I look up, think of him and hope that I never forget to keep pushing through.