It’s peculiar living like a refugee, never in one place for more than a week or two at a time. In her seven weeks in the hospital, Megan has been in nine different rooms. Every so often, we load everything we own onto a borrowed cart, schlep it to the next room, and settle in yet again. My husband and I are alternating between home and the hospital, between semi-normal and altered realities; it can be jarring. A fellow parent called hospital living an invisible subculture, unknown and not understood except by us “privileged” few. We know we’ll be living with packed duffles in the trunks of our cars for the next year.
I’ve watched real refugees on the news with sympathy, torn from their homes by circumstances out of their control: natural disaster, violence, war. I’d always wondered how I would deal with the horror of having to suddenly leave everything familiar behind. Obviously our situation isn’t remotely the same as a real refugee’s, but it is unsettling enough. You learn what little you really need, and we don’t need most of the stuff we tell ourselves we do. I’ve been living in the same three changes of clothes for most of the last two months…I can keep them clean, and that’s all that matters. You learn what’s really important. Being together as a family, something that has only happened for maybe six hours out of the last eight weeks, is what I’m most looking forward to when this is all over. I realize how much I’ve taken that for granted.
This experience will forever change my perspective on a number of things, including what makes a family and a home and what’s normal and important. I believe those changes in perspective will be good, even if the experience is not. I know I will never again take for granted having us all home together. Home is wherever my loved ones are, wherever that is, because that is where my heart will be.
“Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you go.” –Tad Williams