Home. Four letters and so complicated. Home. I love that word. Home. It's where I go when things are overwhelming. Home. But it isn't a place. It's a feeling. Home. It's inside me. I've always carried it with me. Home. But sometimes it takes years to figure the simple things out...like Home.
Thirty eight years ago, when I was just 22 and pregnant with my first son I was in a place that I thought was home, waiting, like all young women do when they're focused on the changes going on inside when their life is about to change forever. I thought Home was a place. I found out that Autumn that Home is a feeling.
My Mom called to tell me that my brother, my little brother who was only just twenty, had been shot in a hunting accident. It was serious. He'd been shot at point blank range in his abdomen.
John, my husband, took me to the hospital to wait. And all I could think about was Home. I have a tendency to disassociate, to go somewhere else in my mind when things are overwhelming. Hearing a Doctor tell us that my brother was near death was overwhelming. I wanted to go Home.
I wanted to be anyplace else except that horrible, little waiting room with that exhausted young doctor telling us what was probably going to happen. He told us to go into my brother's room to say goodbye. I didn't want to. I wanted to go Home. And I couldn't. I was stuck and I had to face what was happening. Home. That was all I wanted. Home.
I remember walking down the hallway. The walls were green on the bottom, white on the top and the floor was brown linoleum. To this day I still don't like those colors together, in that combination. It was the middle of the night so the lights were dim and everything was quiet. And all I wanted was Home.
I didn't want to go into that room. I didn't want to hear the heart monitor ticking, ticking, ticking. Home. It was in my mind, a weird kind of mantra. Home. Home. Home. I couldn't breath. I couldn't move. I wanted Home.
Home was a place where it always smelled good, like cookies and wind. It was small and there was a table in the kitchen with one leg propped up with a piece of folded paper to keep it level. The table cloth was old and soft, faded and stained where I'd flipped a peanut butter and jelly sandwich over and the grape jelly left purple smudges. The windows were always open and my dog was under the table, waiting for me. Home. I just wanted to be Home.
But I walked into that room and saw my brother laying there with a tent over his middle, hiding the tubes and bandages. He was in shock and breathing so hard and shallow that it sounded like he'd been running for too long. They told me he was in a coma, but when I took his hand he squeezed it. And then, I was Home.
That was when I knew who I was going to be, where I was going to go, how I was going to get there. And the first step was knowing that I was Home. It was right there inside me...Home. It was always there, my little house with the lop sided table and cookie smells. Home was always inside and not a place.
He lived. It wasn't an easy thing for him to do. Sometimes it's easier to leave than it is to stay. Maybe he wanted to go Home too. But, instead, he stayed. Over the last 38 years he started a business, married twice, raised five children and climbed his share of mountains and slogged through more than a few valleys too. I never asked him if he knew that word, that place inside called Home.
Today I went to the hospital to see him again, sick again. He called this afternoon to tell me that he might have had a heart attack, that he was in the hospital going through one test after another while they tried to figure out what was wrong.
It wasn't his heart. It wasn't his gall bladder. It was in his colon, in the place where his old scars were. There was an obstruction and it hurt!
I walked down that corridor again. The hospital has changed. The floors are carpeted, the walls are all different colors and patterns. The rooms are warm and the chairs are comfortable. We didn't have to wait in a waiting room either. All of us, his sons and one of his daughters, his wife, his friends and me...we all were there, waiting, talking, smiling, laughing.
And there it was again, Home. I wasn't in a hospital room worried about my brother. I was Home, sitting at my little table and everyone was there with me eating my famous chocolate chip cookies and drinking real milk, the kind with cream on the top. And my little brother was there, sitting at my table too.
I don't know what's going to happen. I'm here, writing and waiting to hear how he is. Before I left the hospital to come home, he took my hand and squeezed it again. He didn't feel good, but he looked right at me and smiled anyway. And there, just for a moment, he was Home too, with me.