Stepping up to the desk I watched as she noted my name and birth date. Placing a wristband on me, and snapping it shut, she smiled while handing over a questionnaire to complete. Answering questions about family history and trying to remember past surgical dates I stopped and looked up. Looked around. At the others there. My age, many older, a few younger. All women. Most alone, some with a friend or a husband, all sitting quietly … just waiting their turn.
Heading back, I changed into a gown and felt a shiver, like a kiss, on my shoulder.
I took my seat in the internal waiting room, smiled at the other ladies gathered there and glanced around. Hoda and Kathie Lee blathered on, I answered a few emails, and glanced at the women’s magazines laid out for us.
Someone new called my name and I followed, stepping into the room with the machine looming. Asking my last name and birth date, and checking my wrist band, we exchanged pleasant banter as she explained why I’d been called back today. See there was this area they wondered about, and I really should have it checked further, and so here I was.
I’d nearly rescheduled the appointment just days before. The test isn’t even covered by insurance. My job is so full right now, etc. I don’t have time. But something, something stopped me from doing that.
We started through the test, one side of the gown dropping away, my arm draped around the top of machine, the other shoulder trying to relax. It pressed down, the whirring of the imaging doing its job, followed by her soft words of encouragement. Wrapping up again, off I went to wait. Wait with the others.
She came back again and pulled me aside to say they’d ordered further tests and that I’d be staying for a while and would that be OK? Sure I said, not really thinking about it. Then, with her hand on my arm, this question “Is anyone here with you?” And a look. A look that your soul can only recognize as one of concern and when I saw her expression change, I felt concern, too.
Going back to the waiting room, I looked again at the magazines waiting, and laughed at what was on top. “Guideposts,” a spiritually rich periodical that I used to read with Hubbs’ Mom. I remembered sharing issues with her and both of us dog-earing our favorite stories to talk about later. Taking that as a sign, I smiled through several stories of faith and inspiration. Fear receded.
Another called my name and led me down the hall and round the corner for an Ultrasound. Now the only ultrasounds I’ve ever had were years ago when pregnant with my boys so I knew this wasn’t any big deal. The Technician was friendly, with a pretty smile and bouncing brown curls, and she put me at ease immediately. Again, the same routine, confirmation of my name and birth date, a check of the wrist band, and we were off. But in the soft light of that darkened room, I let myself go there. To those thoughts that anyone would have when they realize their life might be changing in a very big way. A tear rolled down my cheek and I muttered the same words to myself that Sissy did during her heart attack this spring: Well this is b.s. The same ones Mom said when she went in the hospital 49 days ago. Then I took a breath and smiled at her as she covered up my chest with a warm blanket and an explanation that the Radiologist would read the results right now. However, she added, he might come in and do more testing himself. Would I be all right with that? Did I have any questions? She smiled as she waited. “Yes,” I said. “Is he good-looking?” Tipping her head back we laughed together. Out loud and hard. I explained how I used to watch daytime “programs” with my Grandma and that she fancied this one particularly handsome Doctor. We giggled like we’d known each other more than 40 minutes and again I felt a shiver, like a kiss, on my shoulder.
Soon she left the room and I lay there, quietly singing one of my favorite Gospel songs, thinking about how things can go from zero to sixty and how life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I went from scared to mad to making promises– how I’d take on less, I’d exercise more, and maybe I’d even give up potato chips and then the door opened and there he was. Smiling down and explaining what they’d seen didn’t warrant a specialist or further tests and how they’d just been extra cautious because my type of tissue is hard to read and stuff can hide in there. Then he said these words: “come back in 6 months for another test and you should be good to go.” Tears clouded my vision as he shook my hand, smiled and left the room.
And then I breathed. Really breathed. Like I must have been holding my breath for 3 hours breathed. She walked me out, I got dressed, and checked out at the front desk. We made that 6 month appointment and cut off my wrist band. Before heading to my car I stopped and bought a coffee and smiled at the potato chips winking at me from the checkout line.
I’ve narrowed my kiss givers to four loves no longer here with me: Nana, Grandma, Hubbs’ Mom, or my Dad. Or maybe four took turns, I don’t know. See, I lost count of the kisses, but not the feeling that remains.