The View From My Mother’s Hospital Room

by Bonnie Ellman


70th St. at York Ave. ny 10021

Neighborhood: Upper East Side

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer in May of 1996, she was sent for treatment at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

This gave my father and I a reason to trek to NYC almost every night to pay her a visit.

I was thirteen and considerably naive at the time. Yet, now almost ten years later, I vividly recall these trips and realize how little I appreciated living on the periphery of such a miraculous city.

I would stare out the window and scrutinize the brownstones and the abandoned apartment buildings that lined the Cross-Bronx and was awed by the vibrant reflective panels of the mammoth buildings that were present when we got off the 59th street bridge.

In my mother’s room, askew from all the machines and the medical equipment, there was a large bay window which faced the water and I sat watching the glistening multicolored lights from her hospital room.

Even in the midst of her illness, I felt a sense of incredible hope. Maybe, it was my youth. I didn’t know anything about the world, just the images that were presented to me and things that I would hear. All I knew, was that I was happy to have her, my family, and the bustling surroundings, which at times was quite overwhelming.

My mother had three operations and was sent home. After her stint at the Hospital, we never really had a reason to go into the city that often, except for follow-up procedures.

The trips into the city with my father dwindled and I became immersed in other things and wanted to explore other horizons. Occassionally, though I would walk down to Steppingstone Park, which faced the skyline and looked at the pastel reflections that the lights made in the harbor.

I often still wondered. “What’s going on over there?”

Now, that I am older and my mother is currently nine years cancer free I have opened up my eyes to the wonders and horrors that the world holds.

Since the terrorist attacks, I can no longer admire the skyline. It kind of reminds me of my mother’s cancer, so unexpected, so sudden.

Yet sometimes, I still go to look at the glimmering lights and think that maybe there is still some spark, some tiny ember of hope.

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