Last night I was leaving work later than usual. Most of the people I worked with had gone home for the night, and there were just a few stragglers leaving the hospital. It was quiet, and as I turned to head down the hall to the parking garage I had a flashback to another time I was walking down a hallway in the evening in a hospital.
Families that are living in the hospitals due to a family illness, injury or event often become part of the background. During the day hospitals are teeming with people and activity, but at night, things become quiet, and you can often be the only one heading to an elevator, walking a hallway, or entering a parking garage. It is a lonely time, where the bridge between leaving the worry and scariness of what is happening in the hospital transitions to having to get home to the responsibilities and real life waiting there.
As I walked down my quiet hallway last night I remembered those nights - that transition back to reality when I knew that no matter how I felt about the day and how much worry I had for Frank, I had to get in my car and drive those 27 miles back to the house so that I could tuck my children into bed and reassure them that some parts of life were okay.
It was a quiet, scary time that I faced every night.
Many families are facing that reality tonight - leaving the hospital, walking out into the cold, starting that car up and shivering until the heat finally kicks in. Driving home in the dark out of the hospital cocoon to another place - just to do it again later that night, or early the next morning.
Tonight I was reminded again about those days when I heard that a family member living with a brain injury survivor was at the capitol trying to help other families of individuals living with a brain injury. I was so proud of her for using a terrible, difficult situation to try to help others in the future that will join her on this life path. Some of us choose to take our journey out into the open, letting others see the good and the bad, the scary and the reality, so that others can benefit from the journeys that we have been on.
But others sit back quietly, living with the day-to-day struggles that sometimes can be more than anyone can take. To those of you living here, in that place, we know. We hear you. We are listening.
We get it.
We - those of us living in the open - are here for you. We are here, for all of you, so you do not have to be alone.
Alone, walking down that hallway, at night, feeling the sadness.
Let us walk with you down the hallway.