These have been the three most terrifying, bizarre months of my life. As time dissipates, I can still envision the horror of the months, but they have already sucked my conscience into a swirling miasma. Gasping for breath in the churning descent, I have only God’s saving power to spare me from drowning.
Last November, I was committed to a mental hospital (“rehab facility”) that was glibly promoted by a PhD feldwebel as a place that would be better for me for a couple of weeks. Recently, I had sunk into a deep morose depression, a life whirling out of control, spinning off little shards of disappointment, failure, rejection, the incapacity to count my abundant blessings.
But the overarching terror came as the fearsome hole in my soul that taunted me that I would never be able to come home again . . . life, I saw as just whistle-stops along the track of rehab facilities, nursing homes, retirement homes, vacuous places dedicated to making me well again. But, couldn’t anyone hear that all I wanted was to come home again? Home. Home. Home.
I cried uncontrollably the most irrepressible sobbing, gasping for breath, begging to be home. Shouting, arguing with therapists was to no avail, as one by one doors slammed shut.
Maybe I really had lost my mind, and despite my delusions, the home for which I clamored would never again be mine.
Kindly proffered rationalizations urged me that my sanity would be best served by growing old in a high-class retirement home with the finest service, the best cuisine, and immeasurable prospects for making home with new/old friends.
Sorry, but in my spun-around psyche, an aura of pernicious oldness hung over those places, recent obituaries ominously hanging in ornate reception halls. I heard myself repeating again and again T.S. Elliot’s dismal mantra, “This is the way the world ends; not with a bang but a whimper.” Had I too become one of his “Hollow Men”?
Toward the end,, fate (read, God’s might) finally held sway. There was no nursing home that would take me, my mind still in its prime, but my limbs incapable of carrying me to the bathroom or bathing me without two attendants to lift me. Has anyone else been dehumanized by two jivin’ aides hanging you by a winch and straps above a commode, waiting impatiently for you to move your bowels, at age 70?
Finally, through the magic of Divine providence, it was my time to come home again. After three months away, I barely remembered much of the furnishings. But slowly the demonic nightmares and ill memories are dissipating, and in their place rejuvenated vitality blooms again, simply from the relief of coming home. I now weep as I tentatively chant the Shabbos Kiddush. My sweet Minnie knowingly wags at me, and as an article from faith, I know that am I entering my own verdant Garden of Eden. Home. Home. Home.