Scribbles in an old notebook

Cancer. The chemotherapy suite. They walk into the room two by two, and I try to guess which is the patient. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes not at all. Does my perpetual smile bother them, I wonder? So much illness but, especially with the elderly patients, I want to take their hands and help.

This is not what you’d expect but this is my favourite time with my father. Here he is on his game. He teases the nurses and jokes with the trial monitor. He lets me fix the height of his bed so he’ll be more comfortable, he lets me tuck the blankets around him when he is cold.

Mom does her tsk-tsk-tsk-stop-being-happy stint and admonishes him for playing. She says that you can’t tell when he is serious. But you can – you just have to look. You need to pay attention and see the fear that he is pressing  down into his chest.

Is this where the cancer comes from, I wonder? Are the bad feelings he has suppressed his whole life eating his insides away?

Sometimes I want to slap him, push him to see the bright side that I can see.

He’s still there. There’s still time. Make the most of it. Stop hating and start loving. Don’t look at the clouds, cherish the sunshine. Stop throwing your life away, you don’t have any left to spare!

The man in the corner smiles and says good morning to everyone that enters. “Beautiful day”, he says. He smiles at me as he drags his chemo over to the window. He is alone. Does he have someone who loves him? I hope he does. I wish there was a way to tell him that he’s helping, that his smile is contagious.

Maybe mine is, too.


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