It's two years. Two years since The Night Before. 731 days – one extra day thanks to the leap year. On 5th June 2014 I was admitted to the neurological centre in the early evening, due to have my first lot of brain surgery – at the time I believed it would be my only lot of brain surgery, ha – the following morning.
My memory isn't as good these days, I'm frequently forgetting what was said by whom or what happened in which order and when...yet I remember this night most perfectly. Although it wasn't perfect. It was the least perfect moment of my entire life, at that point anyway, when I sat there in my private room along the corridor from the women's ward; staring at the field of poppies framed and hung on the wall at the end of my bed. Thinking of my sister spending the night with the grandparents – we transferred her from our car (and care) to theirs en route, in a handy grassy lay by. My parents would be in the hotel over the road. The hotel that had turrets.
At one point, just as we had slumped and settled into the stifling quiet, my surgeon appeared. He was all smiles, which made us smile of course. His eyes were sincere. He drew on my neck and said he'd be back in the morning. At 8am I'd go in. At 8am it would happen. How funny hearing that.
The parents reluctantly left. I sat for a while, alone. Wondering what to do. I wasn't tired. How could I be? I walked to the loo down the hall. I'd shower in there in the morning. I crept back to my room and got into bed.
Pulling back the blankets and shuffling down into the bed was surrendering. I was giving myself to the hospital. To the professionals. Turning off the oddly angled lamp beside me at 11pm was so ridiculously symbolic it hurt my eyes a little when the darkness overwhelmed me.
I turned the light back on momentarily, and took a photo. For some reason I wanted to. I'd take one the next day, too. Of the twitchy fingers on my right hand, crossed, against the hospital gown. Now though, I captured this strangeness, this unknown – my feet in my koala socks, legs crossed which seemed stupidly relaxed given the circumstances, a little tattoo just about visible. I wanted to grab this moment and remember it, think back to it in the future when all was well. Little did I know I'd be back in this room not even a year later. And guess what? I took the same socks, and wore them on the second Night Before. Like a lame woollen talisman.
Seeing this photo over the past two years has made me smile, made me tut, made me cry. There's no telling how I'll react each time it pops up. Today I saw it appear on my phone when I woke. And it made me feel...proud. In that moment, two years ago, I had no clue what was ahead. I was falling into the unknown. And I did it. I was a little bit fantastical in my bravery. I have to remind myself of that, now and again. Of that Night Before.