My eyes drooped like last night’s crepe paper streamers.I kept trying to open them up- but sleep wanted to make a comeback. (It’s not exactly had starring role in my life lately.) I grabbed my Nook and started to read- hoping the distraction would help. It didn’t. I considered another cup of coffee- they always have coffee and saltines out at the Radiation center’s “comfort bar.”  (The first visit I thought the saltines were just odd- now I know- saltines= vomit control. Vomit control makes us all much more comfortable. Justsayin.)  I vetoed the coffee. If I drank any more I’d  a) be the non-patient bathroom hog at the cancer center. (That’s evil. Save the potty for the patients.) Or b) the shaking from too much caffeine- sleeping chick on the not so comfortable chair in the waiting room. (Which, could get me a nice escort to a whole different wing of the hospital….) Lose/lose if you ask me.

Instead I decided to tweet obnoxious things about my husband’s radio-oncologist looking like a guinea pig. (I may call him Dr Hamster in my head. I can’t help it.)

To be honest-between eyelid battles won and lost- my most conscious thoughts were: “Why on earth did I have to to be up and out by 6:30 am to sit on this uncomfortable chair and battle sleep. I’m pretty sure I could have done the same from home. in bed. ” I was also thinking about how much my neck hurts and how fun it is to turn my head and wait for my fingers to go numb. I also may have been thinking abut all the things I need to do this week before I leave for Denver for a MOPS International Board meeting..And how unfair life is in general. Especially when it comes to cancer. And how much I hate this skirt, and how right the “bad hair cast” was for today. I also called home 14 times to make sure college boy had youngest up. To make sure the lunch made it into the backpack and that socks were on under his shoes. (You gotta watch that kid- he has sock defiant disorder. New diagnosis- watch for it in the DSM V. Or not.)

I’d (usually) blame this kind of angst on PMS- but I checked my calendar- and well- that’s not gonna work, unless I’ve suddenly started ovulating every 13 minutes or something. Nope- I was just plain enjoying a sleep-deprived pity party.

Which is about the time I noticed the elderly gentleman exit the treatment area ands cross the room while struggling to put his hoodie on. His face had character and experience carved into it’s mahogany skin- in the form of wrinkles and dimples. His salt and pepper hair was cropped short- this man had no time for “hair.” He had places to go and things to do. If only his hands would stop shaking so he could put his hoodie on and go do them….

I hate cancer. I thought watching him struggle.

Then- As I sat hating cancer and feeling yet another wave of self pity wash over me- I watched a younger guy- dressed to head back to work- set down his clipboard and get up from his seat. (Radiation center secret: newbies get clipboards- after your first appt you check in at the ATM like kiosk. It’s weird.) He gently but very respectfully helped the older gentleman with his hoodie. I don’t think they even exchanged words. Just a couple of meaningful eye-contact involved nods. One arm. Then the other. Then he straightened out the hood.

Mr Mahogany walked out the door to where his daughter awaited- and Mr Clipboard sat back down to finish his paperwork.

Two guys- in this cancer thing together, helping each other out.

Every time I’ve been here- I’ve been praying God would get us through. Every time we’ve been here- I’ve been asking God to heal.

I’ve been sitting by the table with the bird’s nest flower arrangement to remind me that God is with us- even here….

What if I’ve been missing the point? What if he’s not just WITH us… but want’s to use us? Even here?

Or, maybe it’s just time to open my eyes beyond sleepiness and our own grief and fear and open them to those around us…..maybe.

Dear Lord- I pray for the 2 guys I saw this morning- first for them to be healed and whole- then- for me to learn from their gentle exchange. Lord- open my eyes to the needs of those around me-and help me meet them- Even Here. Amen

Where ever you are- from Target to the cancer center- I encourage you to open your eyes to the needs of those around you. Does someone need a jacket zipped or a hood smoothed? A hand held or an umbrella shared? What a different world this would be if we knew and lived as if we were all in it together…….