Wednesday, January 27, 2010
In a moment of surreality that is so typical of my life, I found myself at 9:10 this morning in the cemetery of Dorothea Dix Hospital, one of several state-funded psychiatric facilities. 20 minutes later I would be in a warm conference room meeting about changes in the mental health system, but at that moment, I stood in front of a field of grass that was the DDH burial site from 1859 to 1970. Like so many of the patients who lived out their entire lives here in past centuries, the cemetery lay forgotten, neglected, and overgrown until recently when it was restored to its current mowed-fescue glory.
It took only a second to imagine the lives of those lying in rest here. My imagination is rich with photographs and recordings of people's experiences in this and similar hospitals--ghosts, if you will, whispering in the wind that blew open my coat and stung my cheeks. The cold kept me grounded, and I turned after a few minutes to face today's insurmountable task: fix the mental health system in NC.
Somehow, my long list of insurmountable tasks, my gazillion-car repair woes, my cystic kitty--all the things I was thinking about as I drove to the hospital this morning--somehow none of it seemed quite the same as I walked back toward the conference building.