Sunday, day eighteen post-transplant is the day we go home. September 14th. Exactly four weeks since we first entered the double doors into the little hall with the little rooms, Rich exits North Shore University Hospital and gets in the car to go home. We will miss the nurses and aides who have taken such good care of us physically and emotionally.But it’s time.

As we drive home, Rich opens the car window to feel a breeze. We tease that he’s letting his hair blow in the wind. For the first time in a month, he’s seeing new sights.

We get home and he stands in front of the house. Emotions play across his face. Home.

We stand for a moment and take it in. He looks up and down our street. Home.

Slowly he makes his way up our walk. Three steps up to our door. Those three steps use muscles he hasn’t used since August 18th. All his walks have been on level floors.

The house smells of cooking. The boys have been working all weekend to prepare and freeze meals in single serving sizes. Every surface in the kitchen is taken up with culinary tools and ingredients.

After a month of sensory deprivation, it’s overwhelming. The sounds of the house and the neighborhood, the smells, the sights… the sheer volume of space in our small home. The freedom to move about, unimpeded by tubes and hospital schedules. Most of all, to give and get a hug. Tears flow. It’s been a long journey. There’s still more to go but it’s time to take in the moments and the distance we’ve travelled. We revel in our progress. It’s a joyous homecoming.

Rich settles into his recliner in the living room, tasting bites of all the different dishes, enjoying the variety. He’s tired but content. We set up the medications… they’ve all changed since we left home… there’s a whole new protocol.

We call and wish our son-in-law a happy birthday, the four of us together singing and laughing with the rest of our family on the other end of the phone line. So many things to celebrate.

Richard heads back home… a long drive ahead of him. Rich follows us all outside as we ring our bell to see our peripatetic son off. Three steps down, three steps back up. His legs are tired.

Neighbors stop by. Nick finishes the seemingly endless packaging of food. We clean the kitchen to the doctor’s specifications. Our One of Nine is back in his recliner.

We start to get used to the new reality. Tomorrow a visiting nurse will come in the morning. We have follow-up appointments and blood-work in the coming days.

It’s both comfortable and foreign to settle into bed for the night. But it’s something we could get very used to.


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