today we have a taste of the Summer to come in the city. A blue sky, dotted with white clouds covering a warm yellow sunshine, it felt good to have warmth on my back and everyone, everywhere seems happier.
I decided to explore the city close to my hotel before visiting time came around. Across the busy road from the hospital is an art gallery, somewhere I last visited some ten years ago. Meandering through the exhibitions, each showing something different, I was taken back to a time when this was normal life. I used to love checking out art, and spent a lot of time in places like this. Within minutes I was appraising and rethinking about what I really like to see, memories of a younger self, I had so many opinions about what is art.
I moved along the corridors and came across the new extension to this public place. Built recently the old and the new sit more than comfortably side by side. At the rear a huge window gave the view of a garden, it was full of Spring flowers and sculpture. I couldn’t wait to get outside.
Once there I was struck by how the architecture blended with the foliage all around. Reflections bounced images of multiple trees and leaves, the sky lending a shadow and a glow, it was almost magical. Camera in hand I started recording what I was seeing, it was extraordinary.
Later, when I had photographed everything, I sat and looked around. I was thinking about how important it is to take time to simply enjoy, something that has not been easy of late. Quietly, I gave myself to the garden, taking in details of each tulip, standing tall and proud. I noticed the tiny butterfly working it’s way along the blooms and the bird song became almost deafening. All these things I had not noticed from my camera. another reminder that I needed to be still, to immerse myself in the nature around and just be.
I became aware of other people arriving in the garden, three women passed me by, talking in a language I do not understand. They too seemed in awe of the beauty of the surroundings, and as they looked back at the building they were obviously taken with the large letters illuminated at the top of the roof. A GATHERING OF STRANGERS it proclaims. One of the three came to me and asked in broken English, what is the meaning of gathering, I explained it was a coming together, a bringing along and she was happy as it was as she thought. It struck me then that this was actually what is and has been happening to us for the past month.
So many strangers have gathered around us, from medical staff to fellow patients and their friends and family, all of us gathered together with one thing in common. And from this gathering come friendships, albeit fleeting and also the people we learn to trust literally with life itself. Again today in a garden, more strangers stopping to talk, the world is full of friends we don’t yet know.
The hotel I have stayed in at times during these weeks is also a place full of strangers, and yet, the staff here now know me well enough to chat. No longer strangers, I know about family, about grandchildren, about how working long shifts wears them out and I know how their smiles and enquiries about hubby and his health, and about me, well these things make life nicer all around.
So many lessons are being learned during this time, having to let go of plans, of literally living in the moment and handing control to others better able to fix things. Self reliance for me, after ten years of doing most things as a pair, I have learned again to trust myself. Driving across a strange city, it now feels very familiar. Being apart from home, from friends and from family, dealing with stress and worry, and yet I seem to be coping ok. Who knew I could do this? Certainly not me.
We are hopeful that things will be resolved soon, that the medics will decide that the time is right to fix a broken heart, and then one day in the future we shall drive away from this city of strangers, knowing that we have left behind an army of friends. Lucky are we.