Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day at the rehab

The date was February 14th, 2015.  It was a Saturday.  Lou (a residential staff woman) came into my room, the "Blue Room" and told us it was time to get up.  She was always up and at 'em and ready to conquer the day.  I sat straight up and hit my head.  No matter how many nights I had slept in this very bed, I always busted my head in the morning.  I guess it's hard to get used to sleeping on a bottom bunk at the age of thirty-three.  All of the girls in my room got up and we ventured downstairs.  I could smell pancakes cooking (Saturday mornings rotated between pancakes and French Toast).  There was already a line for coffee, and I joined it.  I hated coffee before I came to treatment, but I had recently acquired a taste for it.  Well....a lot of cream and sugar, with a little coffee on top.  We sat around the white folding tables in the formal-looking dining room and sat in silence for a few minutes. Our mornings typically began that way as there were only a few "morning people" in this group of girls.  I was not one of the chosen few. 

We finished breakfast and headed back upstairs to finish our chores and get ready.  I hadn't had a visit in the almost forty days that I had been there, but I was supposed to get one that day...not from my family, but from someone at church.  Regardless, I was happy to see someone from home.  I showered, picked out something nice to wear, and started getting ready.  I was still nearly bald from a brain surgery I'd had in December, and I decided to give myself a mohawk that day.  As I stared in the mirror at my reflection, I thought to myself, "Good idea.  Who couldn't conquer a day sporting a mohawk?"  I put on my makeup, then started fixing the other girls' hair and helping them pick out clothing for the day.  Several of them got to leave for "out visits" with their families.  I was thrilled for them.  After we were all ready, we headed into the Great Room (our meeting room) for Morning Meditation Group.  I can remember stating that I was thankful to be getting a visit.  After we closed out group with The Lord's Prayer, we all headed downstairs to wait for our visitors. 

A few of us gathered around a table and started working a puzzle.  We laughed, chatted, and talked the time away while waiting.  One by one, girls started leaving, and their family members began arriving.  At noon, they headed up to the Great Room to watch a video that all first time visitors were required to watch.  I was a little disappointed that no one had shown up for me yet, but I still patiently waited.  I helped prepare lunch, and I sat in the Dining Room with the other girls and their families and talked.  I always loved watching everyone else interact with their parents, spouses, children, etc.  As time ticked on, it became evident that my visitors were not coming.  It had begun snowing outside, and I knew that no one was going to venture up that mountain to visit me.  They hadn't come when the weather was good, so why would they come in the middle of a blizzard?  I helped clean up the lunch mess and headed upstairs.  I changed back into my lounge clothes and crawled back into my bottom bunk.  It had become my "safe place."  I looked around me and saw all of the pictures of my kids along with a rose one of the other girls had given me when her parents arrived with them that morning.  There was a sign above my head that said, "I love my Mommy."  I thought back to previous Valentine's Days and how I had always dreaded going to the school parties.  At that moment, I would have given anything to be at one of those parties.  I cried myself to sleep.

"Misty.  Misty.  Wake up."

I opened my eyes and saw Lou standing beside my bed.
"Someone is here to see you."
I always wake up a little disoriented, so it took me a minute to figure out what was going on.  Honestly, I think I had even forgotten I was in rehab! I asked her what time it was, and she said it was 3:30.  Visits were over at 4:00. I jumped up and looked in the mirror.  My mohawk was smashed flat, black eyeliner and mascara smeared my cheeks, and I was basically in pajamas.
"Well, hurry up and get yourself put together!" Lou said.
I changed back into my good clothes, ran my fingers through my hair, wiped the black off my cheeks with a tissue, and left my room. 

I couldn't fathom who would be here to see me.  I really hadn't even put anyone on my contact list this time around.  I knew it wouldn't be Chad because he had already said he wouldn't be visiting, plus he had just sent word that I was not welcome back in our home. 

I followed Lou down the stairs, begging her to tell me who was there.  She wouldn't give me even the slightest hint.  We made it down the steps, walked through the kitchen, and started to go into the front office.  As I turned that corner, a familiar scent hit me.  Surely my nose was lying to me, but it smelled just like Chad.  It couldn't be.  I slowly and cautiously walked into the front office, and there he stood.  I will never forget that image for as long as I live. A vision of hope.  He just kind of looked at me, and then he smiled, his big dimples taking hostage of his face.  I hugged him, and we walked out to the sunroom.  The room was full of windows, and it was clear there was a blizzard going on out there.

"I can't believe you drove in this to see me", I said. 

He said he had woken up with the feeling in his gut that he was supposed to come see me, but he had fought it all day.  He finally couldn't stand it any longer and drove up there.  An hour and a half. In a blizzard. To see me. For thirty minutes.  He reached into his pocket, pulled out a package of fun sized Skittles, and handed them to me. 

"Happy Valentine's Day.  I grabbed those out of the kids treat bags", he said

We sat and held hands, barely talking, but still enjoying being together.  Lou eventually walked into the sunroom and told us that visiting hours were over.  I gave Chad a hug, and he left.  I walked back upstairs and stood at the huge window, watching him drive down the hill, until his car was lost in a sea of white.  The fear that he no longer loved me vanished along with it.  That Valentine's Day, a little piece of my heart started beating again.  I started falling in love with my husband...all over again.  My healing began. 

This Valentine's Day, we will get up and take our kids to church.  We will stand side by side during worship and sit side by side during the message, probably holding hands.  We will have lunch at home with the kids, then watch "our show", and take a nap.  Then, we will get a sitter, go to one of our favorite restaurants, and go to the movies.  We will spend the whole day together.  We will spend the rest of February together.  We will spend the rest of 2016 together.  We will spend the rest of our lives together.  And, somewhere along the way, I'm pretty sure we will eat some Skittles. 
It is, after all, our love language.


  1. I love your story and it brings back rehab memories for me and i wasnt sure if me and my family should venture in the snow to worship our lord. And the answer is yes. So ty for the encouragement

    1. Awww. Rehab was one of the hardest times of my life but holds some of my greatest memories. I'm sure you understand! And thank you for the kind words.

    2. Awww. Rehab was one of the hardest times of my life but holds some of my greatest memories. I'm sure you understand! And thank you for the kind words.