Sprouting From The Heart
Over the past few weeks I’ve been traveling to Seattle a great deal to visit my daughter, who is still in the hospital. At first the days seemed as bleak as my spirit, grey and cold with biting winds and spatters of icy rain and hail like frozen needles. As the days rolled on, wild cherry trees that grow along the ferry walkway started blooming and bees appeared despite the continuing cold snaps. The journey into the city has stages too; the walk to the ferry, among well off white people; the boat full of a less homogeneous bunch of people going to all sorts of places; the long hike up seriously steep streets to First Hill (or Pill Hill, as it’s called for the numerous hospitals and clinics that cluster there).
As you clamber up the hill, the streets get rattier and the people get far more demographically mixed. Tent encampments are tucked between buildings or even along blank walls, anywhere out of the wind that offers a scrap of shelter. There was even a camp at the back of the hospital until someone’s tent caught on fire and the police cleared everyone away. During the pandemic, the main entrance to the hospital was closed and everyone came in through the crowded emergency room entrance. That’s still the case, so we line up to check in with an armed guard who puts everyone’s bags and gear through a scanner tunnel and motions us through a metal detector, one by one. Knitting needles are not a problem, luckily! We each get a wrist band marked with the day of our visit, but once we get into the hospital, nobody gives us a second glance (unless you look lost, when everyone will stop and kindly show you how to get where you’re going).
A Wild Ride And A Safe Harbor
The past month has been such a wild ride and I’m still reeling a bit from the whiplash of so many sudden changes but as my daughter gains strength, I am recovering some of my own strength and resilience as well. It’s devastating, shocking, horrifying to see your offspring teeter on the brink of death. Hitched to what seemed like countless tubes, she looked unfamiliar, someone I didn’t know, yet I could tell she was in there somewhere, even if she couldn’t speak or respond. After a week in ICU, that became my mantra, “I see you” and I said it to her over and over. The staff kept saying, “She’s in the right place” and I felt that Harborview was indeed a safe harbor.
As the crisis passed, her care got complicated; she came in to the hospital with a horrible skin condition caused by pustular psoriasis-the very name sounds as awful as the condition is. Two sudden surgeries turned her into a post surgical patient and the underlying medical issues became less of a focus as new issues arose. We slowly got that sorted out, more or less, and as the days and weeks accumulate, my daughter is coming into focus as well. When I asked if she wanted her phone or tablet or music, devices she used almost constantly before all this, she said, “Not really, no.” She went on to say that she hadn’t been just lying there all this time. Once her medications got adjusted and she was able to think clearly again, she’s been doing a lot of life review.
Looking At Life Through A New Lens
For my daughter, this catastrophic event is turning out to be a turning point in several ways. Her life has changed irrevocably and that’s just what it is. Her spirit is stronger than it was before all this came down; she’s been so depressed for so many years that it had to have felt like ‘what it is’ as well. Now, however, she’s starting to experience something else. As her body recovers and she’s able to sit up in a chair, to stand up for a minute, to balance without falling over, her spirit is leaning into each little victory as a sign of hope and progress. She says that she feels like she’s been given a chance to reset herself physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. She’s seeing her world through a new lens and it looks better that way.
During the dark years of depression, she didn’t have the energy to engage fully with her own life, let long anything else. Now, she’s seeing ways to learn new skills, to make different choices, to accept help of many kinds. Being helpless puts you in a position of HAVING to accept help if it’s available and one silver lining has been that she is realizing that accepting help is a strength, not a weakness.
About That Potato
As you can see, the potato valentine has started to sprout nicely. When the soil warms up a bit more, I’ll cut it up, let the cuts dry off a bit, then plant the eyes in fresh soil. Come summer, we’ll be harvesting the children of the heart. Onward, right?