Updated: May 7, 2019
The whole time I was in rehab, my one motivating factor was to get home. I missed my cat Layla, and I wanted to be back where I felt comfortable. I kept telling myself that once I was home in my apartment, things would be ok. That I would be fine and I could start going back to normal. I had not realized yet that things would never be "normal." After a week of hard work in rehab the day had finally come for me to get back to the real world. Matt and my dad came to pick me up and move my few belongings out of my room and transport them all to Worcester where I lived. I strapped on my helmet which I was required to wear anytime I was on my feet and waved goodbye to all the people on the unit. As I walked out the front door of the lobby, I took deep breaths of fresh air and enjoyed the cold January air on my skin.
I made the daunting climb up 3 flights of stairs to our apartment and felt a huge sense of accomplishment as I faced my front door. When I took a step into the apartment, a flood of emotions overcame me, but the relief and happiness I had expected were not among them. I stared at Matt and I's modest Christmas tree in the corner, with presents under it still. Memories of setting it up days prior to my hospitalization came flooding back. As I looked around the apartment all I could see were remnants of me. Matt had been unable to bring himself to move anything that belonged to me for fear that those may be his only fragments of me left had I not survived. He had wanted to have memories and proof that I had at one point called this place my home. I stared at a cup I had left on my side table and the pair of leggings that I had thrown on the floor beside the bed. Time in apartment 23 had stopped moving on 12/25/18.
It often reminds me of what it must have felt like to the Egyptologists stepping into a tomb that had been sealed shut for thousands of years. Thinking about how each item has been untouched for centuries and how exciting it was to think about what the life would have been like for the last person to have touched these things and placed them in their final resting place. However, I knew what my life had been like when I put that cup on the table or wrapped Matt's Christmas present and placed it in its spot under the tree. I was now standing in my own mausoleum and wanted nothing but to run out the front door.
I had this overwhelming feeling that I was in someone else's life. The phrase "you don't belong here" kept echoing in my head. This place suddenly didn't offer me the comfort it once had. I was an invader in foreign lands. And now I was here to take away someone's home and call it my own.