There's nothing like people watching to take my mind off of heavier topics. It's been a rough week for my dad, who is battling cancer. He'd been in oncology ICU since Saturday, and after spending several days in room 206, I'd started to appreciate mannerisms and personalities of some of the staff who helped him. Probably as a form of escape, I began to weave stories about:
- Wanda the volunteer who cheerfully passed out bite sized candy bars and magazines. She wore a bright green scrub top and I estimated her to be in her mid 70s. She had white short hair, a quick smile, and an easy laugh. She's the type of person that probably looks as good as she did 50 years ago. A blast to be around, and a solid friend.
- Bridget wore Dickies scrubs and was a no nonsense type of nurse. While some nurses are drawn in by my dad's sweet talkin' ways and protestations about being jostled and prodded, Bridget saw through this guise and went about her business, effectively and methodically. She's probably a great mom and is never late on paying bills. She has my respect and gratitude.
- Dr. Heidi had waist length thick grey hair, pale skin and bright blue eyes. She reminded me of Galadriel in LOTR in that she was well spoken, kind and fluid in motion. I was taken with her jeans and boots. I liked to think after she exited the hospital at the end of her shift, she'd hop into a Chevy truck (or mercedes) and head off for some adventures.
So as dad was released, I was happy to take with me memories of these people who helped care for him the last few days. Our lives were fleetingly linked in a shared goal, and my wish is that their upcoming journeys are fulfilling ones.
When you've been in a hospital for a few days, you tend to forget what the real world is like. There aren't antibacterial sanitizer dispensers at every turn outside the glass doors. People cuss, are in a hurry, and drive crazy. Hurricanes hit the east coast. Walking out of the hospital is like leaving a protective shell -- you're cast back into the ocean and it's not long before you realize it's best to start swimming again.
So for my first day of not being at the hospital, I caught up on emails and tended to projects at work. I did laundry, filled the car with gas and texted family for updates. Throughout the day I looked forward to hearing about my daughter's first day at school and knew we'd catch up as I took her to gymnastics. We did. On our drive, she shared concerns about learning to use a combination lock on her assigned locker at her new middle school, thoughts about her science teacher (the jury's still out on him), and a thumbs-up for the cafeteria food. I told her that her Grandpa loved the drawing she made for him of her beating him at Chinese checkers.
As she warmed up with the other gymnasts, I felt some tension ease out of me. I watched her and knew I was looking at the future. I was reassured that we will move on, we will be okay, and there were bright things ahead. I was telling a friend yesterday that no matter how bad things get, she and my son are lifelines. I will always find a way out of any situation--I do this for them and because of them--and I'm blessed in so many ways.
As I walked down the bleachers when class finished, I smelled something....odd. A teenage girl was holding a packaged pickle in her left hand, and was smearing liquid bubblegum on it with her right. She'd take a bite from the pickle then squeeze on more sweetness, and was perfectly happy enjoying this snack. It reminded me again of life; we take the sweet with the sour, and keep on keeping on.