Chemical Christmas

November 25th, 2014, 12pm

It was 9°C with scattered clouds. The breeze was brisk.

Today, there was a Christmas tree waiting, with blinking lights and everything. A surreal note amidst the grimness, but it helps, if you ask me. I took the bed next to the door so that I could look at it during my chemo.

I observe the faces of the relatives - especially the sons and daughters - when they stand on the doorway looking at their loved ones receiving their treatment. They seem so worried. They carry all the sadness of the world. Who knows, maybe it’s worse for the relatives. I mean, the patients eventually come to terms with their new state and, unless they drown in despair, they learn to stand on their feet and fight. But the relatives never recover, do they? They are left with a constant, unanswered “why?” Plus, they feel helpless because they cannot really reduce the pain of their loved ones, or partake in their ordeal. They are forced to be observers of an entirely personal battle whose outcome they cannot determine - and that must leave them heartbroken.

The “divine pathologist” came by today for another treatment of her own. She seemed exhausted. She was in pain and she broke down crying at some point. Nurses and colleagues of hers came to her rescue. I felt tears forming in my eyes, but kept holding them back. Doctors always seem so invincible and godlike that it’s moving to experience their human side. I finished my chemo before her and went and took her hand in mine. When I returned home I let my tears escape. I have not cried once about my own illness. But I was crying for hers.

It is indeed heartbreaking when you are outside looking in, merely observing, without being able to do anything to alleviate the other’s pain. It’s also kind of encouraging to observe that even amidst our own pain, there’s still room for compassion towards others. Or maybe the suffering of others is mirroring our own and by showing them compassion we are also being compassionate towards us. I don’t know. Even that wouldn’t be so bad. Sometimes maybe we need to step outside from ourselves, in order to really see ourselves and really be there for us.

Steve, Shu, Giada, Christine and 13 others said thanks.

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Maria Coveou

travel journalist, translator, freelance script supervisor for film & TV, film buff, lover of the written word and of music, blogger, vintage lover, '80s child, occasional flapper, Lindy hopper, traveler, thinker, dreamer, temporary alien []

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