Her voice, her face, the nervous continual tapping on her clipboard is embedded in my mind, in my heartbreak. She was the “cold, disconnected doctor” who gave us the bad news. There was little compassion, kindness, or awareness of who was sitting before her. Strictly business, only giving medical information that our shock could not let in at that time. We only heard, “incurable cancer, radiation, chemo, probably many years, die of infection.”
“Isn’t this an oncology office? Where is the Kleenex?” I barked through my tears looking around for something, anything, that would acknowledge the moment like only Kleenex can.
Several years after receiving the catastrophic news, the image of her has softened some in my mind. Unexpectedly my heart breaks for her and what she must have to find within herself to be the messenger of life-changing news every week, maybe even every day. I see her pregnant belly. I see a nursing mother. I think about her baby. I dream, “It must be hard to open your heart to the sweetness of your baby and then give bad news to people every day.”
I wonder, “When you look into the eyes of your baby, do you ever see a scared person faced with a terminal illness? What do you feel?” I just don’t know. I can’t imagine it.
She didn’t share a touch, smile, or caring presence for me to be able to even guess.