Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Faces become familiar

While walking down the halls in the hospital, traveling with a group of people in the elevator or standing in line at the cafeteria trying to decide what to have to eat, I start to notice other people and wonder what their stories are. I see the sadness and worry in their eyes. I see some patients that haven't had anyone come and visit them. I wonder how long someone can last without any support or encouragement being alone like that.

There is a cancer patient that goes in to have her chemo treatments the same time that Charlie does. She seems to always be in the room next to Charlie. I have seen her walk around the halls with a group of friends that have no hair; she doesn't either (which is not unusual on the fifth floor). At first I thought that maybe they all met in a cancer support group. Then the husband came in and I noticed that he was also bald. I then came to the conclusion that they all shaved their head to show support for their friend/wife. I also noticed that this lady always had someone spend the night with her whether it was her husband or one of her friends. After her chemo finished, her husband would bring their four children in to see her. Coming back from getting something special for Charlie that he wanted, I saw that her children were all tucked in bed with her as she read them a book. Her husband took them home and then one of her girlfriends came in to stay. They had a system. A continuous support system.

At times she has "a girls night" in her room. All of her friends come and you would think that there was a party going on in her room. They can be heard laughing, singing, gossiping and just having a good time. Heck! I wanted to go into her room and be a part of that. I would sit in Charlie's room and admire the friendships this lady had with her friends. It made me think about shaving my head for someone, so I asked Charlie if he wanted me to shave my head for him to show support. He laughed and said, "No!" chuckling the whole time... he thought that was pretty funny. I have to admit I was relieved. I still think that shows a great deal of love they have for their friend.

One night as I was walking to the elevator to head home, her husband had gotten into the elevator with me. It was just him and I. He had a million questions about our situation as I did with theirs. We expressed our thoughts for good will and prayers for each other's plight. We genuinely cared. You could feel the hope for good and happy endings in that elevator and an elevated energy bursting out as the doors opened. It followed as we walked down the hall talking as fast as we could until our paths separated, only to run into her girlfriend with her overnight bag. I felt enormous gratitude for this lady with cancer and her friends sticking by her through a time like this. I felt like I was witnessing something special.

Now that Charlie's week has been moved a week later than her stay at the hospital together, I won't being seeing them anymore. I have been taught by their show of support and love for this lady and how they are in it for the long haul. I was very touched by this.

I don't think I will ever forget it.


  1. I'm heartened to hear of that community that builds itself there. Those people sound amazing.

  2. yes, I remember the faces we saw over and over again...they belonged to the 'extended stay' patients and we eventually learned the stories that connected them to their loved ones.

    It feels like an honor to hear their reasons for being there and for you to graciously give them your story. It's very humbling and private...those hushed conversations in the halls and elevators.

    And it feels unnatural to tell a stranger such personal and private things...but the extended stayers belong to an unspoken club where membership is earned through pain.

    It must be hard to see so many people there for her, as you spend many hours alone by Charlie's side, but I can't imagine Charlie there with anyone but you.

    YOU are the one he cherishes and adores, you are his watchman on the wall. He is lucky to have you.

    Don't ask Charlie if he wants me to shave my head??? You know he'll probably say, "Sure" just to be a brat! :)

    I love you Ang...
    I miss you

  3. One of the things I hardly ever tell people is that I lived a part of my life in a hospital. I was a sickly kid. My mother was a nurse. I knew times were bad when she didn't take care of me at home, but I went into the hospital instead. I know as a patient, I had to present 'brave' to the world. I know at night I learned to cry without making noise and even without tears. As a caretaker, I loved my long term patients, would fight to find their veins without hurting them, and to see them as those who loved them daily all of their lives saw them, and not as patients.
    People need one another. Love is so important. Bless you and Charlie Angela.

  4. These brief but meaningful friendships are what help in these situations. People that understand how you feel.
    Hugs to you both..

  5. you are such a good hearted person and I know that the strangers you have come across in the hospital are
    better for meeting you and you them.

    love you all of you

  6. We all need each other.
    I am convinced God sends us people who will help us along the way.
    You are in my thoughts and prayers...

  7. What an inspiring story. I know that some people do face illness alone in hospital, (I trained to be a nurse) and as staff we would do our best to keep those people company and do special things for them.
    Charlie and that other lady are lucky to have such amazing support systems in their family and friends.
    Keep up the good work Angela.xoxo

  8. What a very special time for you all. There is something special about difficult times. They can, and do, bring folks together. That is if they don't fight it.

    I believe there is a blessing in all things that occur in our lives, and have written about it here.

    Taking the time to connect with others is important to the healing process. Yes, even we "healthy" ones are healing too.

    This connection supports my contention that we are all angels to someone. I'm glad you took the time to be one for that other family.

    May love and peace be with you and Charlie always.

  9. it was so good to hear from you! hope all is going well. this was a wonderful story!
    I'll pray for both of you.

  10. What a lovely story of support. It's during times like this that you realise just how important it is to have the support of your friends and family whether its by your side or in thoughts and prayers. When my husband was ill we were often amazed that strangers would reach out and offer comfort.The right person at the right time.