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Eleven Days Later

A week and a half ago, I was on my way to the hospital. Without much fanfare or social media attention-whoring, I arrived, got prepped, woke up and began the process of healing. A lack of help at home, the suggestion was to entered a rehab facility. Little did I know, it was basically a short term nursing home and aside from one other, I'd be the youngest person here. That I took with my normal comical view and I embraced my "retirement" years.

The advances in the hospital surprised even me. The lack of pain, shocking. Sleeping on my side was a bit issue, but even that was accomplished. A week later, I'm walking with a cane, I use more as a security blanket than for stability. I still have one or two physical limitation I need to muscle through but the biggest hurdle is remembering my limitations.

So in four or five hours I will leave and by noon, I should be home. Oddly I'm torn. I'll miss my roommate and his daughter. A tough old bastard, 87, named Art. A Korean War vet, who is quick to point out he never saw action. A die hard conservative. A hunter. A carnivore. We share nothing in common, other than these confines. We connect, glances, nods, winks, smiles. His daughter visits and treats me as if she's always known me. The teacher in her is as caring and loving as any mother I've known. She's done it for 34 years. We talked about kids changing and she's quick to point out, it's not the kids that have changed, but their parents. They are simply a product. We closed our friendship with a hug and chances are, we'll never meet again. Hospitals aren't a place you want to look back on with connections.

I'll miss the nurses, who made me laugh more than I have in many years. The therapists, who sincerely care, taking time to explain tasks that are important to me. Offering insight and actually thanking me for making suggestions, they had never thought of. The medical staff, who reminds me I'm well ahead of schedule, but to remember, this will be two weeks of self imposed therapy, both physical and mental and to remember to rest. I'll miss their care, but most of all, their compassion.

Home. I don't feel as if that's where I'm going. I'm going to where I live. I'll return to obscurity, seeing less people in a week than most can imagine. Despite the lack of silence, which I covet so, I'll miss the smiles and more so, smiling back. I return to rest, but now I know my excuses are dissipating, and while I maneuver to get into bed, wash with a washcloth and anchor myself to something stable, while doing menial chores, my entire future needs to come into focus and fast.

As I sit here for my final morning, just being handed my daily wardrobe, I think back to all the strangers I've passed in the hall. Men, women and children, visiting their loved ones. Laughter, smiles, pain and tears. Eleven days of cards, candy, flowers and personal keepsakes and of course a never-ending chorus of "I love you," and "I miss you." It must be nice. It is.

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