Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Area of Refuge
I had a dream the other night that Maggie and I had evacuated to an "area of refuge" and were awaiting assistance, but no one was coming. The dream was a little scary as we were all alone and I wondered if anyone would be there for us.
There are lots of possible read ins to this, but I know for a fact that it stemmed from the scavenger hunt at the new UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital which is all but complete and will open February 1. The scavenger hunt was part of an all day training for staff and contractors (like me) who work at the hospital. People need to know where things are and we were charged with finding several places, including the area of refuge. It is a place where people who cannot get down the stairs wait for help. You and I would call it the stairwell, but building codes require these places be labeled as a specific "area of refuge" .
The dream stayed with me all day yesterday and I felt a little unsettled, and very alone and helpless. I worked at the current hospital and felt Maggie's presence all day long. That doesn't usually happen to me, but it was strong yesterday. It wasn't just my imagination either.
As I was headed home a car pulled up along side me. The woman inside was smiling, but I didn't recognize her. She asked, "Aren't you Maggie's mom?' She was a therapist who worked with Maggie for a short time when she started high school. The therapist moved away, and I lost track of her. It was kind of her to bother pulling over to offer condolences.
When I arrived back in my neighborhood, I went to the little market from which I always buy my Thanksgiving turkey. I just wanted to confirm my name was on the list. While in there I saw a neighborhood woman whose name I don't know. She is sort of the queen of the dog people in the 'hood. She's very nice and had offered assistance with Maggie in the past. I figured I should tell her about Maggie. She was shocked and kind as always. I told her I had seen her in the past months but didn't say anything because I couldn't talk about it. She completely understood. But when she compared my experience to the loss of her first dog, I quickly ended the conversation. Not rudely, mind you, but ended it nonetheless. I do realize some dog people equate their pets with children and though no harm is intended, it is a rather insulting comparison.. I have both. In fact I've lost both this year. It's not the same,
Finally home, I gathered the mail and went upstairs. I listened to two messages as I plopped my things down. One message was from a mom of another disabled young man. She offered her condolences about Maggie and gave the other reason for her call. Then I opened the mail to read a card from a law school friend who had just learned about Maggie and offered her sincerest sympathy. It was very kind.I stared at the message machine and the card in my hand, not quite believing all of this was happening on a day when I had felt Maggie with me so strongly.
Amazingly, all four of these encounters happened in the span of about 45 minutes; and they all happened nine months and nine days after we lost Maggie. Even after all this time, there are people bothering to offer their condolences and tell me how cool Maggie was. Taken collectively they made me realize that the dream didn't need to bother me, I'm not alone at all. There are plenty of people ready to assist. My area of refuge is anywhere I go and in the people who knew Maggie.