Yesterday I had one of my (now) 4-monthly check-ups. All went well. Dr. Awesome was less personable than usual but seemed pleased with my examination. The mysterious burn that I suffered during the surgery (explained in some doctor-speak I didn’t really understand but I think basically the cauterizing iron got some good skin) is by far the least healed bit. That’s looking yucky but nothing relatively major.
The most remarkable thing about the day was the wait. The doctor was about 40 minutes behind this time, and Del and I sat patiently in one of the semi-private waiting rooms. Each has a cluster of about 6 chairs enclosed on three sides by plants and half-walls, which preserves a quiet and intimate atmosphere. Del and I were in a cluster by ourselves when a woman came out of the office in front of us. In her late 30’s or early 40’s, she was stylishly dressed in heels, dark jeans and a fur-type jacket. Very well put together, which seemed strikingly incongruous against that fact that it was obvious she had been crying mere moments before. She had gathered herself to sit in our mini-waiting room for a few minutes before being called into another door.
I remembered so well being her. I had come out of the office, face all red and blotchy. I hated that everyone there must know precisely the news I had just received. As she sat there lost in her thoughts, sniffing and wiping her eyes, I felt a lump in my throat. I felt so bad for her, knowing how scared she was right at that moment. I so wanted to reach over and offer comforting words. To tell her that she would be alright. To assure her they would give her the best care. She wasn’t even with a loved one to put an arm around her.
But I didn’t. Because you just don’t know what people want to hear in that moment. And you certainly don’t know if they want to hear it from a stranger that she probably wished wasn’t there. After all, I suppose I can’t really know that she’ll be okay, which made me more sad. (I mean, I’m completely optimistic. But she might repond with the thought that I can’t actually know it.) I had no idea how to make words not sound shallow. So I just averted my eyes to give her as much privacy as possible which I guessed is what she wanted most. Del caught my eye and squeezed my hand.
I didn’t make it better for her. But I wanted to. Instead I have just thought about her since, and hope that she has been comforted and found support.