After all the hub-bub of Dad being airlifted to Harborview, I was the last person at St. Joe's. As I left they handed me a blue bag labeled "Patient Belongings" (or something to that effect).
I didn't happen to glance into the bag until I walked through the lobby. Shoes. That's all. Nothing else he was wearing had survived the experience, just his shoes. That he would never wear again.
I completely lost it. Loud snarfly sobs and eyes too full of tears to see so I just covered my face with my hands and stood there. Within one or two moments I was surrounded. Someone held me in a bear hug. Other people draped arms around me. People patted my shoulders. No one spoke. No one murmured tiresome platitudes. They just formed a privacy hedge around me until I quieted down. Tissues were tucked into my hands.
I said thank you with my eyes still closed. I could feel people stepping away. After a deep breath I opened my eyes -- no one loitered near me. No one approached me. I was too raw for contact, no matter how kind, and my hedge-makers seemed to know that. I took a deep breath, and walked out the door.
As we enter fall wind, rain, and storm season, I re-enter the grief cycle over Dad's paralyzing injury a mere 2.5 months after we brought home our children from Russia. Here is a small slice of that time: