Saturday, April 11, 2015

Everything changes

Today, on the way to visit my son at Spectrum Hospital, I drove past the remnants of the Grand Rapids Press building at Monroe and Michigan. It almost made my heart stop.

I worked in that building for 20 years. In this photo of the southwest corner, the destruction of the second floor stops just shy of the window that was closest to my desk. During the annual Festival of the Arts I could watch the kids swinging on the Di Suvero  outside that window. In the fall I watched the Celebration  fireworks from that window because that was always the weekend we were working late on the Season Preview. When it snowed I watched the cars sliding down the Michigan Street hill, and when spring came I saw the trees blooming just outside. It was my window on the world for 20 years.

I was sitting there on 9/11 when two planes flew into the World Trade Center. Now The Press Building looks like a photo from that tragedy.

After visiting with Ryan, who is in the hospital for a routine treatment of his cystic fibrosis, I walked down the hill to get a couple of photos of the building. It reminded me of the many, many times I had made that walk between my office and that hospital, where Ryan is often hospitalized. I used to think how lucky I was that the hospital was so close. On a lunch hour I could visit my son, grab a burger and get my exercise. Every second counts when you're a single mom.

I watched the Van Andel Institute being built. I saw the hospital mushroom and absorb the Burger King and every parking lot in sight. Never in all my trips up and down that hill did I ever imagine that Ryan would outlast the Press building. His life expectancy was in the teens. Now he's facing forty in a couple of years and still going strong.

Nothing is permanent. The strongest institutions have to fight to survive, just like the most fragile among us.