Looking around the chemo unit waiting room I wonder about all of the stories that are sitting here. What kind of illness do people have? How are they feeling? How strong are the drugs they are receiving?
What do they think about being here? Are they grateful for the wonderful treatment we get ? Are they anxious about how they will feel after the treatment? Are they frustrated with waiting? Are they worried about their future? Are they simply non-chalant, just passing the time.
I see some patients who look sick – they are thin and frail, pale, bald. Perhaps they have a cane or they are being pushed in a wheelchair. Others are stealth patients. They look healthy, they have all their hair.
Where have they come from today. Did they have to drive far? Did they have to leave work or are they working at all? Are they here alone or did they bring a spouse, a parent, a child, a friend? Are some coming from farms? Did they have to wake up especially early to do chores before coming. Did anyone fly in from the North? Do they have a regular seat on one of those tiny planes? Did they walk over from a nearby neighbourhood?
Where did they come from originally? Are some from exotic locales who are shivering because of the unexpected cold snap today? Are others from war-torn countries, poor countries who are grateful to be sick in this country in this time? Are there some who are lonely for a homeland and find Canadians cold and unfriendly?
I want to connect, to learn the stories, to share mine. Yet I’m shy to sit down and begin talking. There is such a strong sense of privacy, of just holding it together that it seems rude to intrude. Occasionally I can perceive an openness and begin a conversation. For the most part, however, I simply imagine the stories behind the faces. I look for clues in expressions, in hands, in feet. In my imaginings, there is always a happy ending.