Friday, September 23, 2011

Smaller, and Smaller

Every once in a while, I get to witness moments in human lives that I'm pretty sure no one should witness. Meaning, I feel like being on the fringe of the event, I'm invading their privacy.

The other day, I was having some routine tests done. I have to have blood drawn and various body parts checked on a regular basis. I like the place I go for these tests because the woman who draws my blood is gentle, and good, and has a lot of personality, and after a couple visits will recognize patients.

When I went in most recently, in the waiting room was an older couple. The man in the couple clearly had the look of the gravely ill on him. He was very thin, in a wheel chair, pallid skin, etc. His wife was chatting with another couple and it sounded like they all knew each other from church. There were several other random people in the waiting room, like me, reading so to avoid too much conversation.

There, in the waiting room, was a strapping young man and his mother. I noticed that the young man was wearing a sweatshirt, and had a stadium blanket with him, and another blanket folded up on the chair next to him. I assumed it wasn't a good thing.

The older, chatty woman asked the boy (from across the waiting room) if he had attended the high school on his sweatshirt. He said "yes, Ma'am, and I still do." This opened the door for the woman to move across the room and start talking to the boy and his mother.

She mentioned that in July she and her husband had been hiking and white water rafting with their children/grandchildren and a week later he was sick. The mother asked, "what were his symptoms?" And the woman launched into a fairly graphic retelling of the initial sickness, the doctors who poo-pooed it, the struggle to get answers, the discovery of three types of cancer, the many tests and treatments and how hard it has been and how he's suffered. And with each new detail, the mother's eyes got bigger and bigger and she seemed to shrink smaller and smaller.

Everyone in the waiting room could see this reaction from the mother, except the woman who was consumed with her husband's illness. And, all of us really wished that she'd see that she was scaring this mother, and young man who were terrified of their own futures.

No comments: