Thursday, October 15, 2009
A closed window
The view from here
Montreal, QC, October 2009
I know this view well. Virtually every time I stayed in this place* as a child, I'd wander the floors and explore a place many of us would call alien and frightening. It was, of course, and still is in many respects. But between the ages of 4 and 6, it was home to me. So instead of cowering in my bed, I'd often climb down, grab a wheelchair and hit the waxed-floor road. Eventually, I'd run into the solariums at the corner of each floor. And I'd stare out at the big world through windows that would not open.
We spent some time in the 4th floor solarium with my mother-in-law over the weekend. It was a good day for her. She was able to walk the short distance from her room to this bright, happy spot in a place that is rarely bright or happy. The kids looked out the window at the city below. They counted the planes on approach to the airport and saw the giant Orange Julep in the distance. My mother-in-law drank in their energy as they absorbed the kind of vista few patients or visitors here ever get the opportunity to enjoy. I watched all this unfold and realized history was repeating itself.
I'm sorry that my family has so many ties to this institution, that so many milestones for so many generations have been marked right here. I'm sorry that the mere mention of it brings to mind memories of illness and endings. I'm sorry I walked down the corridor beside the OR where we said goodbye to my father before his first surgery 12 years ago, then spoke to the doctor after she was done saving his life. For the first time. And the second. I'm sorry we can't seem to put this place behind us.
* Montreal's Jewish General Hospital (link, wiki)