As Natural As Breath, As Startling As Lightning

Sleeping on a recovery room fold-out cot in a hospital is a bit like car camping without the fresh air. The makeshift bed roll, the stiff-jointed morning shuffle past bleary-eyed strangers in search of the means to heat water, the disorientation in time and the prevalence of hand sanitizer — it’s  a suspension of normal life that may or may not mean that you’re having any fun.

The storyline of a family will change over time, precipitated by forces of growth or erosion, by sudden storms or sheer force of will. A husk of familiarity carries a seed of strangeness. You know this seed has been blowing in the currents of your family’s collective movements, yet the day that husk falls away completely and the seed transforms into something fibrous and real, you can’t help but look at one another and say: where did this come from?
Love love love, love is all we need.
Sitting in this hospital room, I feel the undeniable pith of that strange new reality. It is a reordering of my situated identity at a cellular level. It is a moment in time that everyone comes to, as natural as breath and as startling as lightning.
 
Love love love, love is all we need. It’s so simple, but where to get it, how to feel it, and who to get it from when the wells we’ve always known have run dry are amongst the hardest questions to answer. This is when we have to reach out — with hands sore from endless text updates and clenched, fitful sleep — to take hold of the fibers of this new reality and weave together the love you give yourself.
 
It won’t always be this hard.
 
(Unlike camping) when sleeping on a recovery room fold-out cot in a hospital, it is hard to feel refreshed by one’s surroundings. 
 
Hard, but not impossible.
 
As I write this from the Seidman Cancer Center Family Lounge, I can feel the most sumptuous late afternoon sunlight through the window, warming my neck and shoulders, making all my cells wake up and dance. I drink these moments in like hot tea after a rainy night in a tent. This is aliveness. I am alive.
Illustration and writing by Krista Dragomer

Krista Dragomer is an Ohio-born mixed media artist living and working in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Her work can be seen at www.kristadragomer.com