As the grayness of the weather dripped off the corner of the building, two hoodie-clad teens ducked under cover of the front entrance to the doctor's office. They were probably taking the same cover that every other bus rider did at this stop when the weather was nasty. And it could be nasty a lot.
On the other side of the glass, I sat and observed. They laughed and talked without even noticing me in the deafeningly quiet waiting room. I shifted in my chosen chair and crossed my legs to the other side. I hate waiting.
I took out my phone, sent a message to a couple of caring friends who knew my whereabouts, then just sat staring at my phone for a bit. After unsuccessfully trying to busy my mind with an inane game on my pod, I resigned myself to staring out the window at the dismal weather. Traffic splashing by. People trying to get wherever they were going. Across the street, an older woman dressed in a heavy winter coat and a scarf over her head was hunched but determined against the wet with bags in hand, walking towards her destination as if she did this every day. She probably did. It reminded me of Rose.
Dear, sweet Rose. Funny, loud, determined, cantankerous Rose. It was to this very office that we brought her when she was so very sick with cancer. I remember vividly walking her in, slowly and painfully. Making sure she was able to get things taken care of with the receptionist, then helping finding a place to sit that would cause the least amount of pain for her. Months prior, I had promised to be with her all the way to the end, no matter how hard it got. It was something I wanted to do.
In the quiet waiting room, I wondered if the doctor would remember me. It has been over a year and a half since sweet Rose went to meet her Savior, and even longer since we were all here together. Back then, the doctor had been so compassionate and accommodating...respectful, for sure. I remember that I really liked him at the time, especially after our last visit. Rose was so sick that she could not even sit in a chair, so he had her lay on a full-size exam table he had set up in his large personal office. We, my friend and I, sat as close to her as we could and held her hand until he came to speak with her. He was so gentle and kind...he knew where her decisions were leading, without question. So did we.
All those ghosts quickly faded when my name was called and I snapped back to reality. I followed the nurse back to an exam room. The exam room. More ghosts were waiting. I'd feel so much better if I wasn't in the exam room of a specialist, even one I liked. I'd feel even better still if I hadn't been here previously with my friend dying of cancer. But, it can't be helped.
Sweet Rose. In a way, she is every bit as faithful to me now as we were for her then. Her memory is with me at every doctor appointment and every hospital visit, whether it's for me or not. I will never again pass a nursing home or the hospice house without remembering her voice and her smile. I am thankful for her presence, if only in memory. And it makes me remember, over and over, that we have absolutely no idea how much we impact the lives of those around us. Rose most certainly didn't.
I don't know the ultimate outcome of this doctor visit. Nor do I fully realize how much impact or influence I have on the lives of others. Humbly, I pray they both be positive.
When I was in with the doctor, he did remember me, and Rose, too. He also said something significant to me that I found so profound. As he was relating his story at my inquiry of his choice of field, he spoke highly of his mentor, the one that encouraged him to his particular medical specialty. "There is always that one person," he said, "that can completely change the direction of your life."
I couldn't agree more.