Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting Room Pity Parties




I should preface this with what I know... I know I am very blessed. I know I have a big family that is always there when someone needs them. I know that I am never alone. I know that I will never be alone. I know that the waiting room wouldn't have room for all of the people who would show up for me if I needed them. I know.

You know how sometimes your emotions kick into overdrive and you are so surprised by the tears in your eyes that you don't have time to say "calm the hell down, you're acting crazy"? Yeah.. that. It happened to me.

I stayed with my mom in Atlanta for her treatments so it was just the 2 of us and I guess I had too much quiet time to think because I came back with pages and pages of journal rambling. We shuttled over to her treatments everyday with another couple that was also staying at the lodge. I smiled every time I saw them- her, so fragile and him holding her purse in one hand and her arm in the other. They greeted us with a smile, he even offered to crawl in the back of the van and let me sit up front. (don't you just love that about old men? of course I laughed and wouldn't let him even consider it.) In the van, we chatted about appointment times, the crazy cold, hospital food and of course my mom talks about her grandkids to anyone that sits still long enough. The wife was a very slow walker... I'm talking, VERY SLOW. He never rolled his eyes, asked her to speed up, or complained that her purse was too heavy, she didn't really need it, and people may look at him weird if they see him holding it. I loved watching them (though not so much walking behind them). The waiting room was full of partners just like him. Quietly updating family and friends on the phone when the patient stepped out, pacing back and forth, complaining about the coffee (as they poured another cup), arguing with insurance companies on their loved ones behalf, and yes, no shortage of men with purses in their laps and worry in their eyes. A room full of men (and women, but for the sake of my selfish story, just go with me here) who I am sure prayed they would never have to prove they meant the "in sickness" part of their vows; yet here they are, standing by their woman, holding their purse, watching their hair fall out, standing helplessly by while the woman they loved for so many years fights for her life in the room down the hall they aren't allowed to go in to.

Yall. It hit me. And I lost it. (refer to the preface. I know I have other family and I am SOOO thankful) If you saw my family history, you would know, for me it is not a matter of "if" but rather "when". And when it happens, I know that I won't be able to "do it all" and I will simply need someone.. In that waiting room, I felt the overwhelming feeling of being alone. Forever. (dramatic. I know. Like I said, those tears came on quick. I couldn't pull it together)

At 20 years old, you don't think much about the "in sickness" part of those vows you take. I didn't. My husband had so many opportunities (on a much smaller scale than cancer obviously) to be there in sickness when I really needed him. If I was open to the reality around me, I would have seen the red flags long ago. I know that had I stayed in that marriage, the man I was married to would not be in that waiting room holding my purse, he wouldn't slow his pace across the parking lot, and he certainly wouldn't kiss my bald head.

I will be more careful next time. I am honored and lucky to be in a position to be here with my mom; to have found her July 31st when our lives changed, to have sat beside her bed each day, to have paced the waiting rooms, soaked the Chapel floor with my tears, helped her at home, and been an ear when she needs to talk. I wouldn't want it any other way... but I am so thankful for ALL the other people who totally stepped up for us- friends and family- praying, delivering meals, baby sitting, giving advice on how to deal with insurance companies, and getting us in touch with the facilities we needed to- you name it; I couldn't do it by myself. I hope and pray that Aubrey Jo is in a position to be here for me if I need her one day, because I already know she can make me feel better when nothing else does... but I sure do hope she doesn't have to take on that task on her own.

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