When my husband and I were first married and living in Traverse City, we occasionally would drive through the grounds of the old abandoned State Hospital. The beautiful architecture was slowly crumbling. It was creepy and your imagination would go wild with what you guessed happened behind the bars on the windows.
Last month, I finished reading How Thin the Veil by Jack Kerkhoff. It was originally published in 1952. It is the true account of a journalist who checks himself in as a patient at the Traverse City State Hospital for 45 days. He had fallen into a deep depression after the death of his wife and daughter, and had made two suicide attempts.
I started writing this blog post the night of July 21st. The very next night, on the 22nd, my dear husband unexpectedly died at the age of 51 of a heart attack. I've thought a lot about the author, Jack, and feel a strange kinship with him.
Being a journalist, Jack writes about the various nursing staff, the colorful fellow patients, and the activities of the hospital with such an interesting perspective. It's NOT politically correct. He falls in love with a fellow patient, named Suzy, who probably will never leave. He works through his grief while interweaving stories of growing up in the area that I found so interesting. It is a story that stays with you for many reasons and would make a wonderful movie! I found it hard to put down and highly recommend it.
I do wonder what happened to Jack and Suzy....I did try a Google search, without much luck. I hope they found happiness.
The Traverse City State Hospital is abandoned no more, I'm happy to say! The Village, at Grand Traverse Commons, is a thriving place of restaurants, stores, hiking trails, tours, and so much more. We have eaten at Spanglish several times, and highly recommend it! The hiking trails in the woods are beautiful and lead to unexpected sights---a huge cistern covered with graffiti and the hippie tree, to name a few.
I'm slowly working through my own grief. It's a moment by moment thing. It's still so fresh and raw. I walk and pray a lot. It helps clear my mind and release the overwhelming feelings that well up inside. Every morning I receive an email from griefshare.org that has been helpful. There is a thought, scripture, and a prayer. They help start each day with a thought/verse to cling to that gives me strength.
Thank-you for your continued support, prayers, and thoughts. Rusty always told me when I was fretting, "It will all work out!" I know, with God's help, it will, and we will be together someday again.