Turns out it’s harder to get out of the hospital than it is to get out of jail. Gary was told he was getting out at 9 in the morning, but it was 4:35 before we saw this welcome sight in our rear-view mirror.
It’s also just as hard to visit at this famous Regional Medical Center in Memphis as it is to visit someone in prison, except they don’t take away your jewelry or send deny you access for wearing low-cut clothes. (I know this because I sometimes helped lead Troop Meetings in our local women’s prison, so Girl Scouts could work toward their badges together with their incarcerated moms.)
To get into this hospital where Gary was since Feb 28, a person needs to show a photo ID. Then they take this mug shot of a picture, a copy of which you have to stick on your clothes and show to show to teensy camera when you get upstairs, either to the ICU or the Stepdown Trauma Unit, and probably to that little baby garden of a nursery too, lest you have plans to smuggle some newborn out under your coat.
We waited and waited, for the final wound care, the final bath, the help getting dressed. Gary had to evaluate the nursing care for them and pick a dish for supper just in case we were still there when those clanking trays came around, then go to Discharge and undergo more questions.
By the time I had fetched my little rental car and they had rolled him on out to it, we had a mile-high pile of things on the accompanying cart, from the creative greeting cards and posters his friends had made to the many magazines, to the Steven Hawking book to the pint-size DVD player his sister Susan sent after her own visit back in the critical first days, to her quart of Tomato Basil Soup. And of course that 30-pound fruitbasket sent by the company whose van had hit him. And the running shoes and wool cap he had been wearing when he was hit, all the rest of hid clothes having been cut apart at the scene of the accident.
It rained like Biblical Flood the whole day before, greet sheets of rain coursing down the glass walls of the cafeteria, but on this day, just as we were taking our leave, the clouds broke and a golden sun poured down on us as we drove south and west, south and west, across the state line and back to his home in Helena and it felt like a blessing and an omen both.