I felt like I had been here before…Sitting in traffic rushing from Midtown Manhattan to Long Island to get to my nephew from elementary school and Cydney from Pre-K on a March afternoon. I was visiting someone in a hospital who had just undergone surgery and they were in an immense amount of pain. This wasn’t the end of my day. I picked up the kids, and met their grandmother in Queens and got home around 9 pm.
I have been here before. I was rushing home to relieve my grandmother from watching newborn Cydney in Queens. My nephew was in Pre-K, attending the same in Long Island. Timile had just had exploratory surgery to see if the cancer that was in her stomach and esophagus had metastasized. I was getting home around 9 pm and staying up all night with my daughter who was just a few days over a month old. Five years ago, Timile was at the hospital right across the street from the one my friend was at yesterday.
The latter of these two experiences feels like a lifetime ago. Being in the same viscinity at a hospital for very similar reasons felt like déjà-vu…the kind in which one feels like they are sure that this is a brand new experience; it just felt familiar. I damn sure am not the same person I was five years ago. However, he and I share similar experiences and that is where this feeling of commonplace emotion came from. I didn’t even put two-and-two together until my friend brought it to my attention.
My friend asked me if I felt sad being there. Right before they inquired, I mentioned Timile because they were walking with a medical pole that had an intravenous drip on it, stating that I used to have one at home. “Nah,” was my reply to their query. They began to divulge, saying they thought about this the day before because of Timile, my mother, and now them. I explained the deja vu thing, and then said that if anything, I’m built for being here because of my experiences in 2011.
I don’t do hospitals. When my mother had surgery to remove tumors from her breast, I visited only once, and stayed in the room a total of five minutes. Hell, the only reason I went to take my mother to chemotherapy in 2013 was because shortly after, she had agreed to watch Cydney the second time this friend and I hung out.
Two years ago, I got into an argument with my friend. Everyone was going to the hospital to visit my grandmother and I just couldn’t do that shit. I was definitely lashing out in anger at them. I couldn’t bear to say or type the word “hospice.” I had to fight to keep Timile off of it in April 2011, when her grandmother freaked out after fighting with me because she wanted to take her to a doctor’s appointment that ultimately ended with an admittance and the words “The best course of action is to just make her comfortable.” Eight months later, Timile was put on hospice care and I hand’t figured it out until the she passed away. The wounds were still very fresh.
In 2016, I didn’t think twice about visiting my friend. None of these thoughts came across my mind until it was brought up. I feel as if recently I was driving up York Ave with my friend and I mentioned “I made a drawing of this park while sitting at Sloan Kettering.” I do think about being at that hospital whenever I pass by it; but the thought is fleeting and to say that it is brief would be too long to describe its length. Anyways, when I felt as if my friend needed me, instinct kicked in and that was all that mattered.
Having a little time to process everything, the truth of the matter is that I was in a place I never said I’d set foot in under familiar pretenses is because that friend is largely responsible for my own healing. I got over my fear of chemo because of them. I wrote the word “hospice” several times withing minutes. I paid an obscene amount in parking because fuck it…it didn’t matter. Everything that happened within the past five years was all context for when I needed to be there in the moment.