The hospital social worker, Karen, walked in, giving me a larger-than-life smile. Beside her was a bespectacled young man in turquoise jeans and a cardigan. "This is Brandon, one of our volunteers." I offered a feeble smile and sat on the desk, anxiously scratching at my arm.
"I uh...really don't think I need to be out doing an activity." Karen nodded her head sagely.
"The nurses said you were pretty shy, but Liam" she smiled when she said my name. "Socialization is a key part in your recovery here." okay, so let me go out and socialize with people I'm not afraid of! I thought to myself. I began to get that kind of nervous sweat as Brandon lead me away from the safe solitude of my room, and out into the atrium where a bunch of other patients were sitting, making calendars. I've got to be the youngest person in this place. Everyone looked like they were older, I sat down timidly beside one man who rarely seemed to speak, and if he did, it was usually in barely audible grunts. There was something about watching grown adults sit at a table making calendars out of already-cut construction paper and glue that made me want to throw up. Looking back at it now, I realize it was probably beneficial and a good way to take everyone's mind off their present situation. One hispanic woman was especially creative, and had layered the pieces of paper in such a way that it looked a lot better than what I'd have been able to do.
Mine was just a simple green square glued on to a larger blue one with a small calendar for the month of february on it. "That looks good, any important dates you want to put on it?" Brandon asked cheerfully. I sat there for a little while. What do I have to look forward to? It should have been easy...a paper due, tests, Valentine's day. Oh shit I thought. Then the cycling thoughts started. Memories of the person I was currently in a sort-of-relationship flooded my mind. I lied to them about where I was, didn't want them to worry. But maybe it would have been easier to be honest. I managed to keep myself composed and wrote down some dates on the calendar and returned to my room. I taped it up to my closet door and stared at it for a while. I had an idea. I grabbed a pencil (dulled on purpose) and began to write little notes down.
"When you feel sad: think of your puppy back home!" and stuck the post-it to my desk. I wrote several more, lists of people who loved me, reminding myself to sing, to pray, to smile, and to breathe. By the time I had finished, there were about a dozen yellow notes in various places around my room. A knock at my door, I was expecting a nurse, but instead,
It was my dad.