When I take my dad to the hospital for dialysis I always go in and wait with him. He doesn't need it - he's perfectly capable of walking in on his own, getting registered and waiting in the outer lounge to be called in for treatment - but I enjoy spending that time with him, just the two of us.
We chat about all kinds of things while he chomps away on his ice chips. Sometimes I stare intently at his face, trying desperately to memorize every little feature while he talks, but I am listening closely too. Hearing the sound of his voice, now weak, but still full of fire and life.
For a hospital waiting area, the dialysis lounge is actually pretty nice. Comfy chairs, dark paneled cupboards, a great ice machine (so I'm told), and a TV, all tucked away from view of the hospital lobby. It's as cozy and as non-threatening as it can possibly be.
But, you know, it's still a hospital waiting room. And there are enough old, sweet faces in there to break your heart a million times over.
I focus on my dad, but when there are lulls in our conversation, my eyes wander to the other souls waiting in the room. And yesterday, I overheard enough of a conversation between one patient and a dietitian to change the way I view my own little world, tragedies and sorrow and all.
She's only in her late 40s, I'd say, and in addition to dealing with renal failure, she is obviously struggling with some form of mental illness - a fact that became very clear yesterday when I overheard part of her discussion with one of the renal dietitians.
As I watched her face register fear and sorrow - flicking back and forth between the two as she told her story - I thought about my own life. About what's going on right now.
I miss my son. With every single cell in my body, I miss that boy every moment of every day. And I ache for my dad, and for what he's going through - and for the awful toll it's taken on his mind and body over the last five months. And every day I worry that my mom will call and tell me he's gone. And I worry about her too - and my sister. And I wonder if I'm doing the right things, doing enough, saying enough, or maybe saying too little. Or saying too much.
And sometimes I find myself consumed with it all. Worried, sad, distracted. Swallowed whole.
But as I sat in the dialysis waiting room yesterday listening, I thought about the good bits. Dad is still here. There is a Kristin-shaped dent in my mattress next to a Sandy-shaped dent. I wake up to Dibley-the-Wonder-Cat kisses on a regular basis. I laugh until my stomach hurts. I can walk. I can see. I am loved. I love back.
I am still here.
And life, despite all its sorrow, is often so good I can barely breathe.