I’ve spent the last five years of my life in waiting rooms. Pleasant, but sterile, waiting rooms where I’ve sat, somberly ... waiting for my name to be called.
Rooms where I’ve waited in only my socks and a gown much tougher to fight than any cancer cell from drooping down off my shoulders or having the curtain open on “The Full Moon Review.”
Rooms where I’ve had to gag down a barium Big Gulp, or watch as the ever younger looking tech injects a syringe full of radioactive grapefruit juice into the crease of my elbow.
Rooms where everyone in the room is coping with his or her wait in his or her own way : That woman over there is reading a best seller, though she hasn’t turned a page since she got here. That fellow in the suit with the briefcase is on the phone, barking orders to some toady back at his office about last minute changes in the second quarter something really boring report and whining about how late he’s going to be for his ten o’clock. That one’s surfing the web on her phone. There are iphones and Blackberries and laptops all at the ready – clearly, none of wants to be where we really are.
But most of us just stare. There’s a magazine in our lap but “National Geographic” or “People” – global warming or the antics of a few cretins down the “Jersey Shore” – it’s all just pages to turn, time to pass. We stare … Our eyes fixed somewhere between the plight of the Polar Bear and “The Situation."
Rooms where everything in them is either glass or plastic or stainless steel. Cold rooms. Rooms where, first the nurse comes in and asks you your birthday, and then she tries to put you at ease while she takes your vital signs, and then the doctor comes in and asks you your birthday, and then tries to put you at ease while he explains to you exactly what he’s about to do to your body and what he expects to happen and … what he hopes won’t, and then the guy who’s going to knock you out comes in and asks you your birthday, and then tries to put you at ease while he … well, kind of what the doctor just said only this guy has a few papers for you to sign with words on them that sound a lot more like they’re trying to cover their ass than operate on yours.
Waiting room. The name couldn’t be more succinct or eloquent. Perfect. Two little words that sum up the entire world of anyone who has cancer. Sammy Beckett got nothin’ on that one.
And so it goes, from room to room to room until you find yourself in last waiting room, the one where you wait for Saint Peter to call your name – and ask you your birthday – I wonder where the angel nurses will escort me to. Will it be a great big park – maybe that Island on “Lost”, with low hanging fruit and exotic birds with beaks longer than your arm and more colorful than a Van Gogh? Waterfalls and surfing and everyone gets to pick the body they liked the most in their lifetime to run around in for eternity. Fig leaves optional. And you can have anything you want there – anything! Except those big red apples growing on that tree, that one, over there. But anything else.
Yea, it’s going to be great all right. Think about it : no more waiting. You have arrived! No more cares. No more worries. Not a thought about what’s going to happen next … Who’s that pretty young girl talking to over there? Over there, by the apple tree?