An Open Letter to My Loved Ones
Without you, I’m not sure how I could have gotten through the last two years and as the anniversary arrives in just a few days, I don’t want to wait any longer to tell you how much you mean to me. Or to tell you how much you caring about me meant two years ago, and all the checking in on me ever since.
Not because I’m afraid that either one of us is going anywhere, but because I want you to know right now, this very second…and always. It’s really important to me.
I’m trying not to sound too sentimental, this is all about sincerity and thanking you.
There was a time when I could only imagine what it would be like to have left things unsaid. (Until then I’d only written about a couple characters that had died in my writings; pure guess-work and imagination.)
Now that I’ve experienced the feelings of “what if I don’t come home?” as I was being taken on a gurney to an ambulance, and also, “I’m not ready to not live here” as I was wheeled passed our living room, I have gained a new perspective. It never was about the home itself, although I love it here, it was the panic I felt thinking that I could be leaving you all, my people.
The EMTs in the ambulance were excellent. Then I arrived alone, it’s largely a blur, and was taken for a CT scan. What is clearest in my mind was when one of the staff said I had two people who were anxious to see me.
That snapped me alert because all I could think was, oh no, my husband brought my son in and now he will see me like this! Which of course was just silly, but I hated the thought of traumatizing my sixteen year old. Instead you turned out to be possibly the most rational one among us.
I spent half the day in the Emergency Room at UVA Hospital. It was very scary. My husband, you kept reassuring me that I was going to be okay. And I wanted so much to believe you. In fact I needed to hear those words, over and over.
They cut off my favorite nightshirt and I almost cried. It was protocol, but I was so wishing they’d found a way to take it off instead. Funny what your mind does. Maybe I needed something else to concentrate on.
My dear husband, you had the task of calling, texting and emailing/messaging people. I know that was difficult.
My parents especially…but you handled it well. Dad, I know you were very calm on the phone, just as you always are. I’m sure it was surreal though. Then you had to tell Mom…I know that must have been difficult. Mom…I can’t even imagine.
Once I was situated in the NNICU (no, not the place for babies, it’s the Nerancy Neuro Intensive Care Unit at the University of Virginia) a few visitors arrived. My older son, you arrived from university. I hated that you had to do that, leave school to drive to the hospital. You of course wouldn’t have been anywhere else, and this was very important to me, too. And a few of my dear friends, you came. You looked very worried, I’m sorry for doing that to you, but thank you for being there so swiftly.
The staff, and especially one nurse whom I’ll never, ever forget, were really spot on. I’m endlessly grateful.
Then began the string of visitors who were able to come by the hospital where I spent the next four days. It was so sweet. You arrived with balloons, flowers, smoothies, lip balm, food, cards, hugs and smiles.
You said things like, “Oh I feel so much better being able to see you for myself!”
I spoke to a few people, who all live very far away, over the phone in the hospital. That was difficult, but very necessary and it meant a lot.
You said things like, “Oh I feel so much better hearing your voice!”
And sweet cards and lovely flowers arrived from dear people, far away friends and family, from different parts of the world. I was so touched. Not to mention all the messages on my phone, from near and far loved ones.
After the hospital I was sent to Health South, the rehabilitation center. I was told on that first afternoon that I’d likely be there for three or four weeks.
I was shocked! I’ve never stayed away from my house for three or four weeks, unless I was home in Canada. I think I was a little heartbroken at the thought.
Then I had just gotten into my room when another dear friend showed up for a visit before she had to go out of town. She came bearing a huge box of Kleenex brand tissues…my one request…and it made my day! And thanks to my friend who got that request to her, too. You guys are so great.
To my husband, you spent all four nights that I stayed in the hospital right there with me, on that sad little pseudo-bed. And then you came to the rehab center every single day straight from work, and every weekend day, too. The staff all knew you!
What you took care of while this was going on was a vast, long list. You did a fantastic job. I know you’re thinking you had a lot of help, and that’s certainly true. Thank you very deeply to all the people who helped him take care of our son who was at home. You drove him to school and back, made sure they both had food, and our dogs as well, and that list is vast and long, too.
My boys, you were incredible. All your visits were the best medicine for a mom! You even brought the dogs to see me. Having you arrive to check on me and see how I was coming along, all your concern and thoughtfulness. I love you so much.
Thank you to my friends who were able to come to the rehab. You brought me treats, meals, books, gifts, cards, flowers, goodwill, and most of all friendship, love, your time and yourselves.
Those many people, family and friends, who called and wrote me…every card and every message, all your emails and all your e-cards, were so appreciated. Multiple cards from my mother-in-law for weeks. Notes every Friday from another relative. Notes from people I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing in person for over thirty years in some cases. Others since high school, university and since shortly after having moved to VA. I even got word as soon as my friend’s daughter was born, when he messaged me a photo right in the rehab. I was very thankful for social media.
I just can’t thank you all enough. It was so huge to me!
Even after I got home it continued. To those who decorated for my “Welcome Home”…so sweet!! Then…Mom, you arrived that same night and stayed with me for NINE weeks. Yes, nine weeks. You took care of us. And Dad, you came, too, for at least FOUR or FIVE weeks. You’d both been planning on coming that May for your grandson’s university graduation, but you came for a lot more time. Thank you. My sister, the same goes to You. I know you were planning to come to graduation, but just having you there was really important.
To all you amazing ladies and gentlemen who arrived with meals, flowers, gifts for at least two weeks after I got sprung…thank you! Even after having done this for others, you just never expect you’ll be on the receiving end. I guess you hope not to need to, but it’s amazing.
You all have been so good to me. So patient, too. I know I’ve missed something or left stuff out, but you get the gist.
It even still continues, I just got a sweet note about the significance of this two year anniversary yesterday! And emails earlier this week. You’re the most wonderful human beings, and I sure got lucky having you in my life.
I love you. I can say that and mean it. It’s just a word, but it’s the word. And I mean it in all the ways that are appropriate to each and every one of you.
As my husband, my kids, my parents, my sister, my family, my friends, old & new, near & far…All of You!
So glad to be able to tell you this stuff. Here’s to Two Years & many, many more!
Thank you, thank you, thank You! XOXOX
Raina K Morton February 13, 2015