Friday, September 23, 2011


I have a long list of errands to run today. My house is a mess. The washer and dryer are both spinning right now. My face is broken out. My hair looks unkept. I am twenty pounds heavier than I should be. I am less than what I want to be.

But I am trying to keep the right perspective.

Yesterday gave me all the perspective I needed. I sat in a crowded waiting room observing those around me, taking in the many faces of sickness. There was one young man, looked to be in his 30's, bald head, red around the eyes, mask covering his mouth and nose. He and his wife passed an Ipad back and forth taking turns amusing themselves with the most modern toy. He had a thick book from a library as well, choosing to read it when his healthy looking wife monopolized the gadget. Cancer.

There was an old woman, thin and frail in stature but for a distended abdomen. She was alone and confused about her appointment time when my mother and I entered the lab for blood work. I noticed her again when she came into the large waiting room and sat beside me, still alone. Alone. Cancer.

There was a middle-aged man wheeled into the waiting room by one of the friendly red-shirted escorts seen all over the hospital granting rides to patients across the floor or to the parking deck. He was weak and stood with the assistance of a cane to get close enough to the chair to sit down. His wife carried a sick pan, rose colored plastic, the staple of every hospital room across America. She handed the pan to him, and he placed it on the floor in between his black Under Armor athletic shoes, resting his head on his knee and covering his face with the hood on his fleece jacket. Every so often, the man would spit into the pan. He raised up to relax, and I caught a glimpse of him resting his head on his wife's shoulder, eyes closed and appearing almost at peace for a minute. Cancer.

A woman sat with her back to me. Her hair caught my eye, and from my shopping excursion the other day with my mother, I could tell it was a wig. It just sat too perfectly, and the color didn't look quite right even for a salon color job. It was pretty, but it wasn't natural. Cancer.

If there's anything that will put the laundry pile and to-do list in perspective, it's sitting in that waiting room taking it all in. Taking in each face, each family, each loved one touched by this wretched disease. Cancer knows no boundaries and shows no favoritism. It doesn't care how much or how little you have, how old or how young. When it attacks, it goes at its victim in full force, no holding back. Cancer doesn't care if you've got a laundry basket full of dirty unmentionables or a backseat full of children or a life ahead of you. Cancer has no feelings, no mercy.

Cancer has made me realize what is important in life, and it has nothing to do with how many errands I can run in two hour's time, how clean my kitchen floor is, or how perfectly coordinated my wardrobe looks. It's about the laughter with loved ones, the shoulders I have to rest my head on when I'm weary, and the people I want to lean on me when they need a break. It's about people, relationships, and the miraculous love of God that's inside us all. It's about spreading that love, that hope, to as many as we can in every opportunity available to us.

So let's all try to keep it in perspective today.


Erika said...

Amen! I love you.

Kristin said...

Oh, wow, how I love this. How I needed it. I've been searching on pinterest for diets, appetite suppression techniques, exercise ideas because I was so discouraged by a scale I shouldn't have stepped on today.

You are so right here. I have been in those waiting rooms. I have held that rose colored sick pan. I have held frail hands. I have trimmed a mustache that he didn't have the strength to trim. I needed this reminder.

So happy for your mom's positive response to the new treatment. Soak her up!

Nana's Notes said...

I was right there with you and I felt it all as you did. But you, sweet girl, have put it into beautiful words. Keep those words coming. It will help us all keep perspective. Love you. Aunt Norma

carrie said...

Tamara, your ability to write is amazing but your heart is more amazing! Thanks for reminded me the things that are important in life! Love you!