I know I’ve been slacking on Tuesdays since I discovered the nirvana of waiting, but there were two moving events for me in the waiting room this past Tuesday that I wanted to share.
One involved the ringing of the bell. I’ve mentioned before the bell at the chemo unit. When someone is finished their last treatment, they are encouraged to ring the bell. (I have looked longingly at that bell I must admit.) Today there was a man about my age who posed for pictures while ringing the bell. Upon walking out of the unit, him and his family all stopped and cried with happiness and hugged each other over and over again. It was such a moment of joy, optimism and accomplishment. I felt like a bit of an intruder, but also felt happy to be witnessing this celebration.
A little while later a nurse came out to speak to the woman who had been sitting waiting near me. I thought she, too, was waiting for her treatment and we both were in our own worlds. When the nurse sat down with her she said “You’re Mr. Brown’s mother? We just finished giving him his treatment and he started to shake and now has a fever. We need to send him up for blood work and it looks like we’ll need to keep him overnight.”
The mother just looked crushed. Again, I felt like an intruder into a very private moment, but I couldn’t move. The nurse was extremely kind and tried very hard to make it easier for the mother. But the man looked very young on the gurney as he passed me by and I just felt the mother’s heart ache.
This is the waiting room at the chemo unit. I bounce in every week for my treatment pretty happy most of the time, confident that this treatment is keeping me healthy and stable. But for many people, being at the chemo unit is an intense experience, full of anxiety and then, potentially, more positive feelings when the intensity is over. I’m just an observer, but I feel as if I have a window into some deep humanity by witnessing the experience of others.
It’s definitely more than just a waiting room.