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Whaaat?

Tuesday, Dec 13


When I walked into room 307 at 8 o’clock this morning Rylan was coming toward me on his own two feet without a walker or anything. Whoooaaaa. That’s quite a sight. Robert and Rylan were both sitting at the little table by the foot of Rylan’s bed, working on their computers when I left to get some breakfast. 


More of the same this morning, except the slow hallway strolls were done without a walker. It looks a bit zombie-like: a steady stream of patients slowly and perfectly straight, up and down, up and down the halls. At least they don’t have their arms straight out in front of them. 


So we are supposed to wear masks in the halls. Roomie must have forgotten his mask, because at one point we met him pinching his nose shut with his fingers, yibbering away to his entourage as they strolled. Seriously? Three years into the pandemic and we think we’ll get away with pinching the sniffer? 


Lunch in the cafeteria again. We lingered over pork schnitzel. They always have some variety of vinegar slaw. So good. 


Back to 307 and we settled in for mid day naps. I was dozing in the pink vinyl, Rylan flat in bed, Janice nearby. Robert left for a short spell. I heard a knock on the door, it opened slowly, and in walked Rylan’s two brothers, with Robert beaming behind them. 


I blinked. Dimly I heard Rylan say “Whaaat?” In my best Looney Tunes voice I repeated after him, “Whaaat?” We stared in complete shock, then each said whaaat? once more for good measure. My face felt frozen. My mind went perfectly still. 


Never have I ever. 


Family doesn’t show up in Europe unexpectedly. 


I am suspicious that Rylan sat bolt upright in his bed, completely against the rules, without doing the careful roll onto the side, push himself up on with his elbow to sitting position. But I can’t say for sure because I was scrambling out of the pink vinyl and there’s no footage of that moment. 


From there on it’s a bit of a blur. Talking. Walking. Laughing. Explanations. A few more whaaaat’s thrown in. 


Robert went and got their coffee maker and carried the whole works back to Room 307 and made us all coffee. (Did I mention they bought a coffee maker for 17€ because this business of never having access to free coffee anywhere in the hotel really does not do. That is both a question and a statement.) 


Later everyone went their separate ways for a bit. And much later, we all gathered again in 307 for another round of coffee and chatter. 


Tonight I walked back to the hotel in the frosty darkness for the last time. I feel nearly nostalgic about it. It feels like yesterday and forever since we arrived at Hotel Backenköhler. Tomorrow morning Rylan gets discharged from the hospital and we take the taxi to the Park Hotel in Bremen. So excited. 


This house is directly across from the front doors of Stenum Hospital. I smile every time I see it.




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