The appointment

As I stepped through the door, I remembered.

A single pale face looked up at me from the bench by the door, worry lines drawn from his forehead clear across his scalp. Another man next to him bent over, staring at his shoes, oblivious to the drama unfolding further in, where tension swirled round in a cloud of worry and mothers and fathers were transformed into patients and caregivers. Where a young woman sat, quietly, hands folded in her lap, patiently waiting to hear what the next six months would hold. A grandmother sat with her knitting, paused as if time had stopped while she waited to hear if she would be next. Older women in wheelchairs and old men with oxygen tanks shared space with a pair of thin Asian women and an outspoken Baba, asking everyone where the nurse was and why she hadn’t been seen yet. She had been there for over an hour, you know, she reminded her neighbors, she was there when they arrived, remember? And everyone else had been called, and yet there she sat.

There they all sat, waiting to be called, to learn their fate.

I dutifully took my seat, between a swollen woman in a bright purple
bandana and a gaunt girl-child wrapped in her grandmother’s shawl. I
too had been swollen, been weak, been bald, and been pricked so full
of holes they couldn’t find a vein. I too had been afraid, uncertain,
determined, and fierce as I fought my own body, and the traitorous tumor that formed within me. I too had been quiet, and then loud, shouting from the rooftops, “Life does not end with the diagnosis!” I too wondered if perhaps my protestations were not enough. For life would never be the same, not really.

The nurse called my name. I stood up, quickly and with embarrassing
ease, to be seen by the oncologist.  But as I passed my comrades-in-arms, these wounded warriors, I remembered.

(In memory of bloggers Lisa @Clusterfook, Andrea @PunkrockMommy, Manda @AlabamaPink, and One Mother With Cancer, all lost in the last 13 months. And yes, I still link to their blogs.)


9 Responses to The appointment

  1. upsidebackwards says:

    I am sure that your grace, compassion, and vitality brought some measure of comfort and hope to the others in that room.

  2. Beautiful post. Many times I recall the day of my diagnosis and the weeks that unfolded afterward during my staging. It was a complete surprise to me (since my cancer was found in an xray and exam after a car accident), so I didn’t have that worry beforehand, just shock. Complete shock. Waiting is a very hard part of the whole process. Even after I had my diagnosis, I was waiting, to find out what the treatment would be, what this meant. My sister, a breast cancer survivor of 15 years now (at that time 7 years) gave me the best advice – don’t think the worst. I had to come back to this advice many times…and still do.

  3. Spruce Hill says:

    Very good post! Ifeel the same way when I go in. Hope everything went well!

  4. Christy says:

    Standing with embarrassing ease is just another badge of courage, Susan! I know you share many emotions with the the people in the waiting room, but think of it this way–it’s important for them to see someone that is on the other side of the great divide.

  5. Beautiful post. I followed Lisa and Amanda like it was my job and cried like a baby when they died. Both of their blogs are still in my Google Reader. I just can’t bring myself to remove them.

  6. tracey says:

    Sending you love…

  7. clifford says:

    Not time for you yet, babe…

  8. sallysmart says:

    Very powerful visual.

  9. amanda says:

    Was just writing today about an event to honor a woman who ultimately lost her battle. Remembering with you in the way that I can.

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