Today I sat in the courtyard by the Nurses’ building at UCSF talking to someone whose partner lay in a room above us on Nine Long, the liver transplant floor of Moffitt Hospital, waiting, suffering, hoping for a new liver that might save his life. The man I was talking to was distraught, grasping at hope as loved ones and caregivers do coping with such suffering. I offered what I could, listening and answering his questions.
He asked a lot of questions. As his partner in that hospital room had said a few minutes earlier, meeting someone who has actually been through the craziness of a transplant is more helpful than reading medical abstracts. (I felt an immediate bond when he said that: one wonk can always recognize another.)
As I answered questions about my experiences I realized it wasn’t approximately three years ago when I learned about the cancer in my liver and my own quest for a transplant began: it was exactly three years. To the day.
After we parted I walked to my car, secreted in a relatively unrestricted area near Golden Gate Park about 10 minutes away. I kept walking, right into the park and all the way to the AIDS Memorial Grove. I wasn’t planning to go there. The grove is a quiet area in a small glen filled with beautiful plants. It has been there long enough that the young redwoods can now be called trees.
I took some pictures – my own solace and serenity these days – then returned to my car and came home.
I’ve been fretting about the economy and my diminishing place in it the last few days. Who isn’t? Listening to that troubled man… meeting his stuggling partner in the uncomfortable bed on Nine Long… in a hospital room I’ve been in myself… remembering that telling phone call three exact years ago…
Three years count so much more than numbers on a financial spreadsheet.