...with love all things are possible

Believe ...

Believe ...

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Oncologist

            She sat on the other side of the doctor’s desk, hands clasped in her lap, palms damp with nerves. 
Unlike regular doctors’ offices, where everything was the same sterile white, including sinks and cupboards, Dr. Johnson’s office was warm, his desk filled with pictures of family and cluttered with books, papers and a few toddlers’ drawings.  It was tastefully furnished in deep cherry and plush carpets.  The chair she was seated in, like its partner, was comfortable and deep.  She knew this office by heart, she could draw it in her sleep but today it was veiled in a grey mist.  Even the enormous painting of the endless path into the woods was out of focus.
How naive she had been when she brought first her aunt then her mother here.  She would point out the d├ęcor, the brightness, the photos.  She would ignore their mechanical “Mmm” responses.  Chattering on she would do anything to attempt to distract them from their awful plight. 
Now she was in the hot seat nothing else mattered.  If something had changed Sophie didn’t notice nor did she care.
He was due to walk in any moment, but the anguish was just too great.  She was sure it was cancer.  After all, so many members of her family had had it before her, she’d seen the signs, she knew the signs and she’d nursed her own mother right to the end.  She swallowed deep, the knot tightening her throat.
It had all started with a simple infection.  Not quite the way it had happened with her mother, but everything she’d read on the Internet, told her the symptoms were the same.  Ticked all the boxes.
The door opened announcing the doctor’s arrival.  She looked up at him, bracing herself for what she knew was coming.
“Hello, Sophie,” he said walking towards her with a small smile.
“Hello, Dr. Johnson,” she greeted her mother’s oncologist.  Her oncologist now.
“It’s so wonderful to see you after all this time, how have you been?” he said letting his 6 foot 5 frame sink into the chair.  Not his great grey chair behind the desk, but in the seat beside Sophie.  Only one reason why he would do that.
“It’s good to see you too, although I’d rather not be here,” she squeezed her eyes shut with her thumb and forefinger, “if you know what I mean.”
“I know – I’m not a very popular person.” He said with a hangdog expression.
“Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to hurt you,” Sophie touched his forearm, “it’s just that … well, it’s tough coming back here.”
“I know, Sophie.  Everyone who walks into this room is afraid.  I can smell it, feel it. Do you know I have to take special classes and counseling on how to talk to people?  Every year I attend different sessions just to make sure I’m staying sensitive – because my news is almost always pretty awful.”
“I didn’t know that, no.  I never thought of it that way.   It must be really hard for you.”
“Hmmm, it is, yes.  But I live in hope that one day, one day, Sophie, we’re going to crack this one and find a cure.  That always makes me think positive.  I just wish we could have found it already.  So many wonderful people, your Mom, your aunt Lucy … Lucy ...” he sighed.
Sophie’s throat tightened again, “…and now me …”
“And you … and you?” he looked up, the glazed expression cleared as he focused on Sophie  “No! Not you.” He said, clasping both her hands in his.  “Not you, Sophie! You’re fine.  You have nothing wrong except a little stubborn fungal infection which you can get rid of with this,” he said pulling a packet from the pocket of his white lab coat.
“Not? I’m not … I’m OK?” said Sophie blinking back the tears,  “are you telling me it’s not ca …”
“It’s NOT cancer,” smiled Dr. Johnson, “You’re absolutely fine.”
“Oh my God, I can’t believe it.  Thank you!” she said hugging him so spontaneously that her thumb knocked his glasses off, “Ooops, I’m so sorry,” she said bending over to pick them up and in the effort, she knocked over a picture. “Thank you!  Oh dear ", sorry again!” she said she teared up with joy.
“Who’s this?” she asked noticing the picture of a new baby in the photo she'd returned to his desk.
“My granddaughter, Lucy.”
“She’s gorgeous, Dr., Johnson, how old is she?”
“Lucy … she was five months in that picture.  Named after your aunt Lucy.  She died three weeks ago.  Brain cancer,” he whispered, turning away towards the never ending path in the painting as he often did.
“Oh.  Oh, no.” Sophie watched this gentle giant slump as his shoulders shook in silent sobs.  Again she touched his arm.
“One day,” he said, lost somewhere in the woods, “One day...”

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

End of childhood (2)

Feminism.  This play is still running riot in my head and I thought it would be enough to just spit up what I did a week ago.  But it’s not!  Now that I took the cork off, the rest is just tripping over itself to come out. 
Feminism, I spent my childhood watching old traditions slam into new behaviors.  Listening to adults talking about the young generation of women and their attitudes.  I was born in 1960, so there was plenty of fodder all around.
But it didn't fit me.  If it had wheels I wanted to ride it; if it had branches I wanted to climb it; if it involved hand-eye coordination I wanted to play it.  Anything you can do I can do better …
If it involved skirts, fashion, and dolls I wasn’t interested.  Yet this boy somehow had stolen my little girl heart in the summer of 1973 and proceeded to smash it after the sun had set on the end of a magical season.

By the time we got back to the Clubhouse, my mother was in the parking lot, waiting for us.  Broken and disgraced, I rode in the back of the car after the party, while he sat in front.  I said nothing.   She spoke to him, sweet and gushing as always.  After all, he’d been in “Arsenic and Old Lace” with her the year before - all grown-ups and him.  He carried on an adult conversation with my mother as if nothing had happened between him and me in the dark damp shadow of the juniper trees.  I said nothing and then he was gone.  He didn’t even say goodnight to me.
I knew everything was my fault; he'd told me I was “such a baby” and then he'd said nobody would be interested in me ever again.  At 14 believed him and I watched as the rest of my life disappeared into a nothingness. 
It was hard enough at home, being the second of four.  A wonderful family and I love them dearly, but I spent so much of my time feeling like a flyover zone, like a banana skin.  The First was always the Best.  The Boy was the Only Boy.  The Last was the Apple of everyone’s eye.  And then there was me.  A failed number one because I came second.  A girl, when they’d spent nine months expecting a boy.  Trouble.  I spent my first week in this world with no name, because my parents hadn’t planned for a girl.  Everything was blue, the names were for boys and the champagne went back in the fridge. 
To top it off, I spent the next six months of my life screaming, starving and battling for my life with a strange digestive disorder.  Trouble.  I can’t think anyone wanted me much then either.  My older sister used to bang her head against the wall in despair at my screaming.  My father would holler and punch holes in walls.  My mother never confessed how it affected her … so I knew it was bad.

I crawled into bed that night and cried myself to sleep.

It was the very next day I made the pivotal poor choice.  I didn’t plan it, it just sort of happened at the last training session of the summer.  I found a moment and walked towards him.  Anything you can do, I can do better …
“About last night …” I whispered, looking at my long second toe.
“Oh, puh-leeze,” he said, dismissing me with a wave of his hand, turning towards the other guys.
I touched his arm, “about last night … I …” my second toe seemed even longer.
“Listen, just leave me the hell alone.  OK?” he hissed, then added, “baby.”
That was no term of endearment.
Anything you can do I can do better.  I can do anything better than you.  No, you can’t. “Please … whatever that was last night …” I swallowed hard, my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth, “whatever it was … I .. can we try … a – a – again?” the last words rushed out of my mouth before I even realized.  I had no idea what was happening.
“Really?  Well … look who’s growing up in a hurry,” he said, carelessly tossing the words over his shoulder.  “Well, we’ll see what happens later.”
I should have realized from the searing pain in the pit of my stomach that this was a very, very bad idea.  A very poor choice.  But I had no idea what was going to happen.
A tomboy can do anything boys do, right?  That’s how I felt.  Like George (Georgina) in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five Series, I always felt I was more of a boy than a girl – so whatever it was he was planning, I was going to have to grow up quick and learn.
Anything you can do I can do better.  I can do anything better than you.  No, you can’t. Yes, I can.  No, you can’t.  Yes, I can.  Yes, I can.