it’s gone

it's gone | the merry gourmet

I walked out of the parking garage at work and headed toward the cancer hospital. It was a Saturday morning of the long weekend, and team rounds were scheduled to begin in about fifteen minutes. The parking garage is not my usual one. This one is closer to the hospital, and on weekends, I won’t get a ticket for parking there. When I’m on service in the hospital – two weeks straight as the attending of the oncology inpatient unit and the oncology consult service, 24 hour-per-day call – this small thing feels like a luxury. A few less steps to take to get in to the hospital, a few less steps to take when I’m headed home to my family.

Nestled between my weekend parking garage and the hospital is the nursing home where my dad lived for the last year of his life. I hate that place. When I think back on the trauma I experienced with the loss of my father to dementia, the nursing home plays a starring role in my memories.

I park in that parking garage less than two dozen times per year, only when I’m on service. Usually, on my way to the hospital or back to my car, I find myself holding my breath as I walk by the nursing home. Sometimes I cut through the parking lot, taking care not to trip on the tree roots that have buckled the asphalt. Other times, I give the place a wide berth. Even without stepping foot inside, I can remember the smell of it. If I allow my mind to wander, I can feel the black memories beginning to return, squeezing the breath out of my chest. So I hold my breath, quicken my pace, and think about my team and the patients waiting on me. Go, I tell myself. Walk faster.

This Saturday was different. As I neared the path that cuts through the nursing home parking lot, I realized something was different. A chain-link construction fence blocked the way. I walked several steps more, then stopped. It’s gone, I thought. I turned back and walked back to an opening in the fence to get a closer look. It’s finally gone.

The nursing home had been bulldozed. My ever-expanding hospital bought the property several months ago, and though I’d hoped that one day this would happen, the nursing home remained. Until now. In the bare construction site, near a construction dumpster, only a single large oak tree remained. That oak tree had provided shade over the depressing back patio of the nursing home, where a handful of wheelchair-bound patients sat outside and smoked.

I took a deep breath and felt a wave of relief wash over me. I raised my phone and took a photo. I needed the evidence. I looked down at the photo of the empty lot, smiled to myself, and walked the rest of the way to the cancer hospital.

I’ve looked at that photo several times since then, and I find it reassuring and comforting each time. That awful place has been torn down, and it feels wonderful to have the ugly reminder of a year’s worth of pain and some of the worst memories of my life gone, completely erased.

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9 Responses to “silent sunday: a magical disney weekend”

  1. Adriana — June 26, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

    The Electrical Parade will always have a special place in my heart. It never gets old! Glad to see you enjoyed the weekend with your beautiful family.

  2. Snippets of Thyme — June 26, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

    I spent one of the best days at Disney with my son when he was 12. I’ll never forget it. You guys look like you had a blast. I love the picture of your beautiful kids hugging!

  3. Ahh…the most magical place on earth. Looks like you’re having a great trip!!!

  4. LiztheChef — June 26, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

    See, aren’t you glad you didn’t send sweet Oliver to us in San Diego? So proud and happy for you, dear one…

  5. jenn s. — June 26, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

    Love the family pic with Minnie and Mickey! Glad you guys had a fun trip. Hope to see you all soon!

  6. Macaroni Mama — June 26, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

    Wonderful, magical photos!

  7. chinmayie @ love food eat — June 27, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    Beautiful photos… good to know you all had a great time 🙂

  8. Caneel — June 27, 2011 @ 11:54 am

    Aww – looks like so much fun and good memories! Thanks for sharing them!

  9. Paula — June 27, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

    I’m glad your Mom read the comments from your prior post. Perhaps when she is having a tough day, she can come back and read them again and be reminded that she has a lot of understanding and support behind her and maybe that day will get a little better for her.
    Your photos of your trip to Disney are wonderful. You have a beautiful family! I especially love the picture of your daughter with Belle (I think it’s Belle from Beauty and the Beast) Her face is so sweet, a little bit in awe and a little bit shy. Glad you enjoyed your time there.

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