I visited my friend in the hospital yesterday and made an unexpected emotional journey.
It didn't directly involve my friend. He had been admitted with a mild coronary and was doing well (as I write this he's getting ready to return home).
No, it was all about coming back to a place I hadn't expected to revisit. My friend was in cardiology, which was on the fourth floor of the hospital. A year and a half ago, when I was in the same ward, it was oncology. It was very strange walking back through those double doors and seeing the same layout, the same walls, the same fixtures -- but an entirely different staff.
Still, it brought back a lot of memories.
The last time I was on that floor, I was receiving (and recovering from) chemotherapy. I had made it a point to walk as much as possible (which usually wasn't very far). I moved slowly through that hallway then -- I traversed it comfortably now.
On good days, I went down to the first floor food court to get some Higher Grounds coffee.
I usually had just enough energy to get down to the stand, receive my coffee, and take it to the outdoor courtyard. I spent several mid-mornings on the same bench in the courtyard, sipping a house blend grande with one hand, and steadying my IV rack in the other.
After leaving my friend's room (fortunately not one I had stayed in -- that would have been really weird), I went down to the coffee shop. I took my house blend grande out to the courtyard and sat down.
I reflected on the difference time can make. There's been no recurrence of the cancer (always subject to change). I'm currently in good health, and with the sun warming my face, I felt good.
It's been an eventful year and a half. I've weathered the crises with a lot of help from friends and family, and those relationships are much stronger for it.
It was the same courtyard, the same bench, the same coffee, the same time of day -- but the person in the courtyard wasn't the same man who sat there 18 months ago.