Pushing my mother’s wheelchair down the long corridor, post-operative healing complete; mom begins the radiation therapy advertised to kill the remaining cancer cells.
The smiling, hopeful sounding receptionist welcomes us to the overcrowded waiting area; single serving coffee and hot chocolate machine instructions given.
Mom reads her book and I do what I do best – people watch. Within minutes, I hold back tears accumulating in my eyes and swallow down stomach acid burning my throat.
Thank God she doesn’t see it! Thank God she doesn’t see them!
The elderly African-American man whose smile on his face is permanently askew due to half of his jaw missing but whose kindness and love for life radiates from his being.
The youngest patient being wheeled through the automatic doors, accompanied by four loved ones, whose faces cannot hide the seriousness of diagnosis.
A middle-aged couple is holding hands, the woman’s neck and exposed upper chest purplish red from the common radiation burn.
I now notice the other sons and daughters accompanying their parents, older, younger and the same age as me…
And I see the dark circles under their eyes, their “work clothes” now jeans and comfortable walking shoes, and I witness their less than 1 minute ability to fall asleep in the coveted rocking chair against the wall.
I hear the optimistic banter and sometimes forced attempts at laughter; the small talk about the latest crisis in Hollywood and the references to weather.
My over-reacting mind and my empathetic nature make this a place of torture.
I pray for healing to come to all those present; for stamina and strength for me and all the family members in the weeks ahead as we play our role as CAREGIVER.
But now there is just one thing I am thinking – tomorrow I must bring a book!