On Getting Lost ... and Found
It's almost that time again: Time for me to venture forth to go and pick up medications for my brother. This happens approximately three times per year, and it involves a drive to the outermost reaches of the DC Metro area, in Maryland, far from New Jersey but close enough to Washington.
I've done this before, so I know how it will all play out. After arranging the pickup times with my mom, I'll travel to the doctor's house. (This doctor has a production license but lacks a shipping license for my brother's particular type of hormone therapy.) My family's pickup-and-ship method is entirely above-board and legal, but I feel a bit vulnerable each time. In fact, feel the same way I feel when I pick up medication for my husband at CVS. I've had time to consider why I feel this way, and I think it's because there's something so inherently personal about medication. There's a level of trust that needs to be there; a high level of responsibility vested in me that I want to be worthy of.
In the course of the drive, I'll turn down the various Courts and Roads of the doctor's subdivision, each one looking the same as the last. It's an hour's drive each way for me, but I remind myself that the medication's actually working. I'm happy to offer two hours of my time on a semi-regular basis toward something that helps my brother to feel and act calmer.
Once I arrive, I'll pull the car over to the side of the cul-de-sac and step out, my legs aching. Try as I may to avoid it, I usually hit traffic, and arrive later than planned. I always think that I've missed a key turn, but in reality I tend to forget how far away the house actually is, and I worry I've missed turns when I haven't gone far enough yet.
The first time I went to pick up those medications, I got an hour's worth of lost, another hour's worth of traffic, and a full heart's worth of sorrow for the guilt in my mother's voice when I called her to ask for help. I cried, and she looked for my roads on her map. They were too small, and I was too lost. I hung up, and made my way there with the help of the doctor's assistant.
Yet every other time since, my directions and my memory have sufficed, and I know that they will again. I'll ring the bell, and I'll be ushered into the house, which is cluttered but pleasant, a cool air suffusing the space. A cheery assistant will meet me, saying something like, "I talk to your mommy a lot," as though I'm about five years old. To this I will reply, "I bet." The doctor will gather the medications and hand them to me. As always, I'll check to make sure my brother's name is there. William Fischer. I will sigh with relief, because I tend to doubt this while I'm driving: That the help we need will be there, bubble-wrapped, intact.
We're done. I'll say thank you, and as the door closes behind me it will be all I can do not to keen and wail the doctor's spacious yard, beside the streaming fountain. In this instant, I know, I will miss my brother with intensity like devastation. But I will keep moving; I won't want to linger in fading light, holding vials that keep the demons of aggression (mostly) at bay.
That's why I called my mother after I'd hung up on her in frustration, on that first, disastrous trip. I will tell you now what I told her then: Mom, Mom, I love him again.