Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color


A memory slammed into me and with it overwhelming despair as I felt my first night in inpatient rehab. I felt desperately lonely, as if I was in the middle of a desolate landscape with no one else in sight.
Mum had left for the hotel earlier, shortly after Cindy arrived for a visit. And come evening, after all the other patients were settled in bed, it was Cindy’s turn to leave for the hotel.
Footsteps whispered down the hall. Tendrils of hushed conversations floated in from the nurse’s station. My roommate’s sheets rustled as she shifted in her bed.
I was in a strange bed, in a strange room, surrounded by strangers, and I felt abandoned, bereft.
Overcome by the deepest bleakest devastation I had ever experienced, tears streamed down my cheeks, soaking my pillow. Not wanting to alert my roommate to my distress, I refrained from blowing my nose. I tried blot the tears out with tissues, but the stream was too steady, and I was running out. Curled up in fetal position, weeping soundlessly, I dabbed at my nose periodically to keep my sniffling down.
It got harder and harder to stifle the sobs. Once my roommate’s breathing became even and the noises from the world beyond our room were no more, I surrendered. Shoulders shaking, I sobbed myself dry. Then fell into a fitful sleep.
Thinking about it, remembering the despair, my tears well up but don’t spill over. I try to get back to sleep but can’t. I try to distract myself by reading, but the memory stays with me, the bleakness, the desolation.
Finally, emotionally drained, I fall into a fitful sleep.