“I want to go back,” I told my husband seven years ago as we drove to the Seattle/Tacoma airport after our Fetoscopic Laser Ablation surgery that saved the lives of our twin boys.
It felt like the previous 96 hours were a dream. We lived through a life or death situation and, until we knew that everything was ok, it felt like time crept slowly along. Then the green light came and we had to rush home, back to the daily normal. That drive to the airport was my first steps toward normal. My husband would be back to work the following week. Although I was on full bed rest, I’d be taking care of my toddler again. We just went through one the most significant times in our lives, and it felt odd to pick up where we left off just a week before. I wanted to linger there in Seattle. Take time to fully absorb the surroundings where my life changed. But time marched on and so did we, even the home we returned to felt different than it had before we left for Seattle.
This July, seven years later, we went back to Seattle. I was excited to show my now 9-year-old daughter the hospital where her brothers were saved. Tears filled my eyes when I thought of my boys meeting the doctor that worked tirelessly for hours to save their lives. The drive down the 405 to the hospital in Kirkland ran over and over in my mind: the multiple animal bridges over the highway thick with a rainforest fighting to overtake the city; the mining and logging trucks; the Denny’s restaurants at every exit. I felt like I needed to experience the place again to reaffirm to myself that those short days seven years ago really did happen and maybe find a bit of the feeling of “home” that I once knew.
Reality was a little different then I imagined. The animal bridges over the 405 were all gone. The logging and mining trucks were replaced with electric cars and I only saw one Denny’s. Then I found myself sitting in the same chairs in the same waiting room I sat in seven years ago waiting for the same doctor. As I looked at my kids playing with the waiting room toys, my husband scanning his tablet for directions to our hotel, then the doctor as he strode with open arms to greet us in the waiting room, I realized what was familiar. The “home” I had been craving for seven years was the special connection between our family and the doctor that saved my boys. Reuniting with our doctor brought that to light. He hugged us, got to know the boys he saved. We posed for picture after picture taken by the office staff and we cried quiet tears of joy.
We spent the rest of our time in the Pacific Northwest celebrating not only our family, but our unique connection with our doctor and his staff. As we drove to the Seattle/Tacoma airport to come home to Colorado once more, I thought of this quote by James Agee, “How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves….You can never go home again.” But it isn’t a specific place that matters, it’s the people you meet and the experiences you live along the way that make the difference.
Jennifer Smith-Daigle is a stay-at-home mother of a fourth-grade daughter and twin first-grade boys. She and her boys are survivors of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, being some of the first 200 people in the United States to be cured by Fetoscopic Laser Ablation surgery. Jennifer’s life before kids included world travel, historic preservation, and archaeology digs. When she’s not busy with a house full of kids and enough mammals to constitute a small zoo, Jennifer finds freedom in freelance writing, martial arts, and gardening.