Endings

Finale

This was it.  It was the last morning I would get up in the Waterfront Hotel.  The last time I’d eat breakfast or grab a coffee from the Hotel Restaurant.  It was the last day to see the Valet guys get my car and tell me to have a good day.  It was the last time I would walk out into the oppressive heat, get in my car, put the address into the GPS for the rehab even though I knew how to get there.  It was the last time I would do the twenty-minute drive without traffic through the slums of the south alone. It would be the last time I came over the bridge into the suburban area and see the ginormous rehab center in the distance along the tree-lined street.  It would be the last time I pulled into the parking lot, wave to the lot attendant and smile with my coffee in hand.  It would be the last time I’d take a sweater with me into the sub-zero air-conditioned rehab and grab my visitor badge on the way in.  It would be the last time I said good morning to the front desk nurse, then round the corner past the physical therapists waving as I went by.  It would be the last time I would check in on her floor and hear the nurses, receptionist and aids yell “Good morning Ma” as they hurried to their next patients.  It would be the last time I would walk into the rehab room where my daughter and her roommate spent many a day and night consoling each other through their tears, fears and pain.  It would be the last day we were taught how to change bandages, the last day for lessons of doing injections and how to help her in and out of her bed.  The last day for compression socks and adjustable beds and schedules that needed to be maintained to the letter.  It was the last day I would enter the physical therapy gym and all the patients would wave and give me their morning status as I made my way to my daughter.  It would be the last of the occupational therapist telling us stories of her upcoming wedding and plans to have a baby.  It was the last time I would walk these halls in search of ice cream or graham crackers.  It was the final day of the massage therapist who I never did convince to give me one, just one massage after sitting in those terrible hard chairs all day.  It was the last we would be scolded by the staff for laughing too loud or getting in trouble for me taking the wheelchair bound on adventures throughout the hospital.  It would be the last morning we took a wheelchair ride to the garden and sat watching the stray cat go up and down the flower beds.  It was the last day of sitting in the sun with the other patients who had become our friends.  It was the last day of jokes about whose accident was the worst and the older gentleman with the terminal illness would say “At least I still have my looks”  It would be our final farewell to a place that we hated being at, but were so sad to leave.  It would be the last fanfare of a time in our lives that we’d rather soon forget, but had changed us forever.  It was the last day for being “taken care of” by a staff that was highly trained and generously giving.  It was the final goodbyes, it was the writing notes and hugs and pictures and thank you’s.  It was the last time we’d roll out the front door and not go back in.  It was the last time we’d be in the sweltering heat, getting her into the car, laying her down to get comfortable, arranging pillows to ensure she was protected.  It was the day we closed this chapter of our lives.  It was essentially the end in a lot of ways; of what had happened, of who we were, of what we went through.  These people, this place would live in us forever, but for today….it was goodbye.  As we rolled up the windows and waved goodbye, we slowly passed the front gate and smiled as we went by.  It wasn’t “Until we meet again” it was “Goodbye”  And that was much harder to experience than either of us imagined.

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