I already know that the cafeteria at the Naval Medical Center is really cheap, but Justin keeps telling me. "Fifteen cents for a bowl of oatmeal. A whole meal for ninety cents the other day. Fajitas and rice and beans and lots of salsa for $1 something." I know this. "Baked fish. I don't like to eat cafeteria fish, so I got Dominic's instead." (The best philly cheesesteak in San Diego--the one thing I didn't know before.)
I know that Subway and McDonald's are the only places open on the weekend.
I know Jamba Juice closes early on the weekdays.
I know that the cafeteria food is the patient food.
I know that one day when I went to the cafeteria the cashier said, "It can't be that bad," when he saw my crestfallen face, but I don't know what I said.
I had just gotten married in July and now here in September my husband was in isolation with almost no white blood cells and closer to death than any newlywed should be--we call that base the place where we had our second honeymoon (which started a week after our real honeymoon--in Cabo San Lucas, courtesy of my brother and parents).
I can't even stand the smell of Subway anymore. It always reminds me. I don't know how many meatball or turkey sandwiches I ate alone in the courtyard.
I see the doctors in line at Mc Donald's on weekends and wonder about this healthcare system.
I already know that Justin won't be able to get cell phone reception from most of the places in the hospital, from days and days and days of walking toward the parking lot and watching the bars, hoping to be able to call one of the parents or someone from work or God. "Hey God, could you come down here and make sure my husband doesn't die?"
One of my former students got a note from one of the children when she finished volunteering in Africa. "When you get home could you ask God to come to Afrika?" Or something like that. She wrote it better than I can.
Justin keeps telling me these things I already know and he doesn't remember because of the medications he was taking. "The cancer patients rooms are decorated really nicely, like it's a hotel."
"I know. Don't you remember? Your room was full of sunflower stuff. There's this group of Navy doctors' wives who were going around redecorating the rooms of patients who will be there for a long time. Your isolation room was one of the first rooms done."
He doesn't remember, so he tells me. I don't want to remember, but I listen. What else is there to do?