I have said this phrase many times. I have heard this phrase many times. But this week, I learned something about this phrase that I had previously never realized. My family and I have been visiting one of our favorite people in a rehabilitation center. Heart failure landed her in the hospital and some observant healthcare worker along the way thought she would benefit from a stint in a physical rehab center for elders.
I first noticed the misuse of the phrase when my children began uttering it after a few hours in a nursing facility. My youngest (running out of things to talk about with the residents), my oldest (eager to get to the hotel to write about her experience hanging with individuals 8 decades her senior) were clearly not actually tired. In fact, we were going to a hotel, not home. I found it funny that in no way were they asking for what they really wanted.
The following day, again at the rehab center, I began to notice the patients saying those same words. "I'm tired. I want to go home." Physical therapists lovingly saying, "I know you do."
Home changes. The address changes. We remodel. Some of its occupants come as infants and leave as graduates. It houses laughter and tears. It's busy. There's laundry and dishes and floors to vacuum and sweep. Home is not for the physically tired. So what do those words mean? Why do we say them again and again?
Home, a real home, the kind we long for is not a place. It's not an address. It's a feeling. It's being able to let our guard down. It's that exhale we make once we've gotten there. It's a feeling of SAFE.
As I sit beside this woman that I've come to love so dearly, I wonder if she will ever go home. I know she will be dropped off, per her stubborn wishes, at her address, the building she has lived in for fifty years. But I wonder if she will ever feel that feeling, exhale that baited breath, and let her guard down.
But it's all too much for me to think about because...
...I'm tired. I want to go home.