It has been seven weeks since the sewage surge tore through my home, and I still wake up each morning weeping uncontrollably. I wake with tears cascading down my cheeks, without sound, without grimacing, without thought: like there is such a deep void inside of me that the mechanism of crying is malfunctioning. I open my eyes to a room I do not know: black and white pictures of sharply twisted flowers line the walls. I want to cover them. I want to take them down. But it is not my room. My room was blue, with pictures of my children covering the walls, so that they were always with me. My room was comfort. My room was filled with equipment to alleviate intractable pain from spinal cord injury. There is no place like that for me now.
Hotel furniture and a giant flat screen television fill empty spaces devoid of me. My service dog Pollyanna, lying beside me on the bare hotel bed, looking thin and frail, is facing the door where people walk past in conversation: like a sentinel, she watches, yelping in her sleep, wrenched from the soft solace of pillow pets she slept beneath at home. Staring back at me from the mirror I see a worn and wrinkled woman I do not know: but I can hear her screaming my address.
Family, friends, passers-by, want me to leave this hotel and rest in their comfortable homes to heal, and smile and join the ranks of men again. They do not understand I do not want their lives. I want my own. But my life is broken, and the world goes on. There is no place left that is mine. There is no comfort. I own nothing. I belong no where. I have nothing to give right now. There is only gross physical pain and a longing for the comfort of my hospital bed and the medical equipment lost. How can an able-bodied person understand my loss.
So I am here alone and hurt, where I belong: with other bewildered homeless people with empty eyes and screaming hearts, longing not for their possessions, but their lives, their memories, tiny treasures that nobody else valued. I need to be here in this place where no one tells me it will be all right, and everyone longs to go home and cries in disbelief when the light strikes the morning. I need to heal with tortured and broken people, and to put the agony of a lifetime lost into perspective in my own time in my own way, without judgment, without comfort, without guidance.
My soul knows where it is going next. And I must process in my own way, in my own time, the mechanisms of loss, change, identity, memory, acceptance and regeneration. Right now I do not want to go on. I want to be right here, where nobody cares about me and I do not have to consider anybody else. And that is okay.