The Waiting Room (March, 2015)

There are a handful of places on this planet that seem to baptize my insides with a rich and raw sense of being alive. The two that come to mind at this moment are the graveyard, and the Oncology center. So there's that. I'll go into the latter of those since that is currently where I sit.

Before I go on and before you get sad or anything, I should probably tell you why I find myself in this oncology center every once in a while. Four years ago, doctors found and removed a wimpy cancer from my body. I'm here for routine follow-up. After five years they call you "cured" so I'm near the finish line. It's a fairly new type and it's quite rare. I hardly feel I deserve to be a part of this sacred club but here I am, blood drawn and plastic-wristed. 

I don't know why I can't sit in here without a veil of tears lifting up over my eyes. Not sad ones. Not at all. Maybe it's because people smile more than usual in here. Real smiles. Not unavoidably real, but chosen, like love, or old leather gloves. Like there isn't a whole much else to do but hope from the toes up. 

There is a 1000-piece puzzle half done on the table for patients or loved ones to occupy any mind that wanders in. All the easy pieces were already placed so I write this instead. I see and feel patients truly grateful to their nurses and doctors. Self-pity is so easy but I don't see it here. I see a grandmother-type knitting something pale lavender with a smile that looks like she's imagining whomever will receive the gift. And I'm shaken because I consume so much and this woman is creating still, out of her sickness, for someone else. Maybe it's for someone she loves out of habit, like a beautiful path broken down and worn steady in the forest. Or maybe she's made the choice to love, like laying tracks for tomorrow's train. 

But these days I remain, it seems, unhatched. Pecking at a weakening shell. Fragile and cramped in my own me-ness. Thirsty for a lick of air but folded in for now. But this swollen tide in my chest and the warm stream from my eyes gives me hope. Maybe there isn't a whole lot left to do. And maybe seeing is enough for now.

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