Friday, January 16, 2009

A woman sitting alone with her bad news...

This week I've been all off...out-of-sync so to speak. A week of frantic movement, driving from one destination to the next, and returning home to see a mountain of clean clothes to be folded. A river of clothing overflowing basket and chair, mocking me. One item on a long list of other things not done.

I had committed to making a dinner for a woman who is very ill with a relapse of cancer. Her three year old daughter goes to my children's preschool. I rushed BOY & GIRL out of the house yesterday afternoon with just enough time to drop off the meal and get them to their swimming lesson. As I pulled into the woman's driveway, I saw her through her large kitchen window. She appeared to be sitting alone at the table. I turned off the ignition, irritated by BOY clamoring to "GET OUT AND SAY HI!!!!" I stepped out, closing the car door, instantly shutting out the noise within.

This is so kind of you, thank you! she called out.

I turned to see her, clearly weak, standing at the front door.

Oh, you are so welcome, it makes me feel good to do this, I said.

And it was true. I had volunteered to make the dinner because it gives me pleasure to help someone who needs help. And I know how amazing it is to have a cooked dinner delivered to your door. Yet, I had lost track of that feeling yesterday, in my own inner dialogue, a diatribe of "poor me."

We introduced ourselves.

I handed the sacks to her, throwing out words: that I had two children at the preschool, warming directions for the lasagna, something about not needing to worry about returning any containers.

Are you sure?

Oh, yes, I said.

I'd hug you, but I am not allowed to touch anyone right now. (Radiation treatment.)

Oh, that's OK, I said smiling, trying to reassure...

I had an overwhelming urge to take her in my arms and hold her close, letting her feel my strength.

There was the unmistakable sound of BOY shouting something from within the van.

That's my son, I said. He wanted to come out, too, and say hello.

She looked at me for a moment.

People ask me why I don't have any more children. I can't...


I got bad news today, she said.

What do you say? What can you say?

I'm sorry you got bad news today. Please know that you have so many people sending positive energy to you right now.

Thank you, she said.


Be well, I said.

I'll try, she said.

I walked down the steps and across the path to my car.

Drive safe!

I will, I said, opening the car door.

I got in the car and backed out of the driveway.

Oh, BOY & GIRL, we are SO blessed, I said.

Why are we blessed, mama?

Because, GIRL, that mommy is very sick.

I took a breath and let it out, feeling it leave my body...

I still see her silhouette at the dining room table. It is etched in my mind. A room with the lights off. Mother of a three year old little girl. A woman sitting alone with her bad news...

*** Sculpture Credit: titled, "Comforted" - from The Sculpture Gallery.

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  1. I was that woman a year ago, and cherished the kindness and generosity of friends and strangers.

    "Bad news today" - Oh, I hope that there is something the doctors can do.

  2. There is nothing more gut wrenching than seeing young people ailing and being unable to do more than offer support. I think the older one gets, the harder it is to understand the seeming cruelties of the universe.

    I hope the woman gets good news one day soon.

  3. Oh my, how very sad. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for her. Bless you for reaching out and helping - I'm sure she was comforted by that.

  4. Oh how awful. I am glad you were there to bring her comfort and be there--even if you think it was just a few minutes, I am sure it meant the world.
    It breaks my heart she can't hug :(
    I will be praying for her!

  5. That was heartbreaking. Perspective can be hard to take sometimes. We are blessed. Thank you for the reminder.

  6. I have been through this so many times--taking meals to friends and acquaintances with cancer--why do I not remember my mom ever doing this? I don't remember having friends whose parents had cancer when I was a kid and my children would need pen and paper to list all the kids they know who have parents that have died from cancer.

    I'm beginning to believe it is our own environment killing us.

  7. It's been a bad week for cancer news. I hate that. But I'm glad that she had you to at least see someone reaching out.

  8. That's so sad. I hope she gets better news soon. Bless you for helping.

  9. We just learned that a friend of ours has breast cancer. A benefit is being planned to raise money for her in March, and I plan to be there, but I know how hard it will be. She has a 1 year old little boy. I'm sure that any kind of support, like you offered, means the world to them.

  10. Oy. You're a good person and I'm glad you got the feeling back.

  11. Those moments are so heart wrenching and uncomfortable, not knowing what to say.

    I have to believe that kindness sustains us - when we give it and when we receive it.

    That last image is staying with me.

  12. I haven't been able to get this woman out of my mind since I read your story on Friday night. It could be any of us in her place.

  13. Ohhhh... this is hard... I'm glad you let it out... such 'low energies' can stay in a person's body longer than one expect, sometimes.

    when I meet someone like that, she will be on my mind for a very long time... mostly, its till she is well again or ....gone...(that's me)


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