– When tears turn to giggles…

I was still in a daze after Dr. Cheng’s proclamation of doom. After a bus ride of staring out the window at the rain and crying uncontrollably, I pulled myself together for my afternoon appointment.

The waiting rooms at MD Anderson always have several jigsaw puzzles in varying states of progress. I quite liked it… walking up to a puzzle that actually had a solution was very comforting. Plus, it took your mind off of what you were waiting for. The waiting areas were also filled with people who were fearful of what was facing them. Usually, I tried to infect them with my endless enthusiasm, but I appeared to have run out.

There was a cute, older, African-American couple holding hands. I tried to guess which one was the patient. She was stoic, but he was definitely her Rock of Gibraltar…. it must be her. I smiled at them and turned to a puzzle. It worked for a few minutes, then the memory of Dr. Cheng’s face appeared. All the ways that I could feel sorry for myself streamed in. It was a pitiful, pathetic, ‘poor-me’ party. That lady had her sweet husband to give her strength. Where was my Rock?

My eyes teared up and the puzzle in front of me was a blur. Jesus, get it together! What if they came and called me right now? What if someone sees me? I choked back the desire to sob and shake. Looking around, I saw no Kleenex. Seriously? I sat perfectly still, pretending to study the puzzle, blinking methodically to evaporate the tears before they fell. Plop! One fell on the table beneath me. Plop, plop. Damn! My nose was starting to run. I snuck a little sniffle.

A white blur appeared from the periphery in front of me… a hand holding a tissue. I looked up gratefully at the woman who had been holding hands with her husband. Her soft, brown eyes fixed mine with a look of such compassion that I smiled and a little sob escaped.

As I took the tissue, I noticed it was about 3 feet square! What the hell?

“It was all I could find. I went into an exam room to get it for you,” she offered apologetically. It must be one of those liners they put on the exam tables to keep things sanitary! I burst into laughter and, relieved, she joined me. I stood up and hugged her.

A hug and a giggle… that’s what I had needed.

Aren’t people lovely sometimes?




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