7am: "Those are mine!" The security guard is staring suspiciously at the bags of men's clothes
at the door. "Well, not mine," I qualify. "But I left them there when I went to park my car." The guard laughs and we grab up all the bags of shirts and shoes and rush them inside.
11am: "Thank you. Thank you, all of you, for working today," It's the program wide Director of Nursing, and he's standing beside the BMH director, and she is holding a bag of chocolates out to us, over and over again. Barry hugs all of us before he leaves. Sarah snaps a photo of the turkey family made out of rubber gloves and tells us again how thankful she is for us.
12:30pm: "You're going to town on those peas, huh?" The man laughs. I am sitting in the activity room with a plate of food on my lap. I am surrounded by patients and we are watching House. I realize with somewhat of a start how natural these traditions have begun to feel. One of my patients approaches me shyly and asks if she can wrap up her leftovers. "I don't want any of it to go to waste," she explains.
4:30pm: "Michelle's here! Michelle's here!" I feel as though I've entered a dream. My Aunt and Uncle's new house is three years old, but that's how long it's been since I've spent a Thanksgiving with my family. Light bounces off colored glass, and I don't know where to look first. My family, larger somehow than I expected turns toward me, smiling. I feel dirty and tired looking in my scrubs. I feel like I don't belong here, and although my day was easy, tears threaten my cheeks. Then somehow my mother's arms are around me and Ralph is taking my coat and Rosina is pouring a glass of wine and Auntie Mame is asking questions and I am not crying at all.
"Do you want one?" asks my small cousin chewing on a caramel. He is looking at his little brother. Sam nods.
"You can't have one," Nicholas says, without a hint of malice. He looks at me apologetically, "they're too chewy. - But you can have something else, Sam."
And when my tiny cousin, now old enough to speak but still a stranger to me, looks at me as if to ask if this is all ok, I nod. And he smiles shyly and nods back.