My nightmares have a villain: it is a bridge. A rusting bridge that runs over our heads and carries four lanes of interstate traffic. After an anxious day, the bridge hovers eerily in my nightmares, making horrendous noises.
Sadly, this bridge torments me even when I am awake. It is real.
It splits Josh's hometown into two, rising over homes and buildings and thundering with traffic. Josh lives on the west of the bridge and his medical school's campus is on the east. And yes, he walks under the interstate to get to the hospital and back home every single day.
Tarun and I have done this walk with Josh several times. Surrounded by rusting pillars, aged concrete and metal underpinnings, we cannot wait to rush under it. Light shines eerily through the natural cracks in the structure and the decibel level is deafening. To add to the chaos, there is a crosswalk right in middle of the underpass where you have to wait for several lanes of traffic to go by before you can walk the rest.
It's hard enough to do this walk during the day, Josh has to do it before the crack of dawn and in pitch darkness. Crime isn't in your face here but you know it's not far. Josh often calls me during his late-night walks from the hospital. We nonchalantly talk about his day until he says, "I'm here!" which means he is turning into his building. I take a deep breath, grateful he is one walk closer to graduation.
The other day, I told him I will be so relieved when he is an MD and never has to walk under the bridge again. His response stopped me in my tracks: "The bridge is my friend!"
I never thought I'd hear him say that. Ever.
It was disconcerting and reassuring. Disconcerting because I couldn't imagine that either one of us would develop a chuminess with the beast. Reassuring that the brain can accept our discomforts in ways we cannot begin to fathom.
While I continued to stress about Josh's walks, he accepted his reality and made peace. So much to learn from the ones you think you lead.
I'm going to clean up the bridge of my nightmares, brighten up the underpass, put beautiful flowers all around, and clean up the rust. If it's his friend, it will be mine too.
(Photo from Pinterest)