Life has a way of pushing you to face things you had thought too painful to face.
Sunday was supposed to be my gardening day, however, I was stood up, this time though by a friend. He was supposed to come over and help me haul bags of dirt back here so I could get my raised veggie/herb garden started – he never showed. Not that easy to drag 7 bags of dirt back by myself, so I guess I’ll have to figure it out.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I decided instead to grab Irish and the two of us would go out and enjoy the gorgeous sunny day. I can always depend on my fluffy one, and of course, she was over the moon at going for a nice long walk.
We ended up in a place I had avoided.
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Late winter of 2012, Tim and I had journeyed down to London from the Cottage for what would become his last round of treatments – Chemo/Radiation at the Cancer Clinic. During that 4 weeks, we stayed at a place called Thameswood.
Thameswood was a residence set up for Cancer patients who lived out-of-town and were receiving treatments at the Clinic that was located in the new Victoria Hospital.
No luxuries for sure, with two single beds per room, a small bathroom, with the Spartan feel of an old hospital. They provided 3 meals, and transportation to and from the clinic at certain set times throughout the day to accommodate the patients various schedules’.
There are memories of this place I will carry with me probably forever, however not all the memories were bad. We met some wonderful people, all sharing this horrible journey through cancer. Many of the others were on their own, but a handful was like us and had brought their primary caregivers.
Thameswood was located right beside the Old Victoria Hospital, and the Old Vic is coming down.
Mom had stayed there before we brought her home for the last time, and my ex and our friend Paul were both there during their respective mental breakdowns. I’ve also written of this here, and the follow-up here.
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I’d tried to make this pilgrimage a few weeks before, but turned around at the last-minute – I couldn’t do it.
The path I take is one Irish and I discovered when I moved here in the fall. “Discovered” may not be the correct term, but it had been over a decade since I’d taken this path that runs along the Thames, and I’d forgotten where it led. In the past, I had turned back.
This time, I expected to see an empty lot and merely piles of bricks and other detritus. I’d even been told by someone at work the week before that it was gone, as her son had worked on the demolition team.
As we rounded a group of trees that had blocked the view, all of sudden…there it was…in all its derelict gloom. The last time I’d seen it was as we were driving away, back to the cottage that final time.
I had thought to never see it again. I had thought I would find a pile of rubble. Some of the windows are gone, and the place is surrounded by a metal fence to keep people away…but there it still stood.
I felt numb, with memories of this place pushing up through the muck of time. Time has healed some of those experiences. That window I gazed out that last day Mom was there is now open to the elements. The seventh-floor window casing I sat at the day after my ex tried to commit suicide is boarded up – that numb shock of those days is long past now.
The old sidewalk is the same, the very one Dad and I stood at just outside the doors, smoking away together in silence.
On we walked past the building, past the looming front doors, and turning the corner I expected to once again see the old mid-century red brick Thameswood.
Gone. Not one trace of it could be seen behind the tall wooden fencing that surrounded the entire lot.
What did I expect? I can’t say now looking back why I thought it would be there…yet for some reason, it never occurred to me.
I’ve struggled with how to express these feelings since Sunday. Sitting here writing this today I can’t completely grasp onto what it is that makes these tears flow. Yet flow they did, and are.
That place was our last stand, our last hope. Out of all the horrible things that rotten cancer had thrust upon us, this was the last place I had seen Tim laugh. The last time, even through all the pain and side-effects, the last time we had laughed together. For brief intangible bubbles of happiness, we had shared our pain, and sometimes we had actually forgotten why we had all met in the first place.
And now it is but a pile of bricks. Thameswood has been erased, gone, never to be again.
I turned around, and walked back past the old hulk of the old Vic, down the sidewalk I had transversed so many times before, for so many reasons. Memories of broken arms, and broken promises. I was travelling past last days, and good friends who’re mind had shattered so completely of Mania, never to be seen again.
Back on the path that had led us there, past the shopping cart guy with all his worldly possessions, the hot day got the better of us and I stopped under the cool shade of the Wellington St bridge. Irish sunk to the concrete…and I let it all flow past me, away from me, and into the waters of the Thames.