As the elevator doors opened, we barely noticed the huge letters that read “CANCER SERVICES”. It had already been such a long day proceeded by a long sleepless night. My mind was busy with the necessities of the moment, of making sure my five-year-old son was keeping up with us, that he didn’t have his hands in anything he wasn’t supposed to, and that he wasn’t looking too frightened. It was watching my husband’s face and trying to comprehend each grimace. It was trying to read the nurse’s expressions while she gave instructions as if, somehow, she had all the answers and had just been sworn to secrecy.
The mind is a cool grey squishy beast, isn’t it? It can be in so many places at one time while the body stands paralyzed. It was at the house finding all the items I would need to pack quickly. It was making lists of who would need to be called, what schedules would need to be rearranged, if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean or dirty, and did anyone let the dog out? It was already calling home and yesterday. It was tracing back the last few months of the symptoms we may have missed. The mind was spinning and jumping, and my body was just walking behind the nurse like a horse with blinders on. It was just trying to keep up without looking into the other rooms with other patients.
The doors opened to our room and my mind began to settle a little. Familiar surroundings: a bed, a side table, a sink. Then, as always, my eyes continued through the room to the window in search of light. There wasn’t much out there. You could see the top of an adjacent building and a brick wall beyond that. At least there were trees in the distance. I called my son over to look, trying to keep him out of the bed that my husband needed to fall in. The nurses were coming in pairs now: taking vitals, changing pillows, asking questions, giving information, smiling that comforting smile.
Over the stretch of the next couple of days, we allowed a few people into the room. Their discomfort pulled them to the window too.
“Well, do you at least have good view?”
“No, not really.”
Air out. Silence in. The waiting. The no answer. The perpetual cloudiness. The nurses didn’t give the tone of the room or air nearly as much weight. They bounced in and out with much more life. Finally the doctors, with over-the-moon enthusiasm, announced that results of the tests were back. It was treatable. For now, the infection would be a harder battle. Oh.
One aid came in and asked if we would like a room with a better view. Well, yes! Of course, who wouldn’t? I answered for both of us as the new room was promised to have a bed for me (instead of the bench seat that I had been sleeping on). Within five minutes, we moved to the new room, the one with a better view.
We walked down the hall just ten steps and took a right. The door opened to a room twice the size of our last and, boy, what a view! The windows stretched the entire length of the room. You could see for miles across West Little Rock. It was a stunning view of tree tops, church steeples, and Pinnacle Mountain. We settled in quickly, then sat gazing out across it all in silence.
Weeks went on up there in that room and we marveled every evening at the sunset, the geese flying by, and the quiet beauty. At night, we had our own star show. The view got better with the changing of the leaves. Sometimes we used the window to watch the busyness too. If you didn’t look out far enough, then you realized that the same window also overlooked the parking lot and all its constant chaos.
Months have passed since then, and I am thankful to say that we got to kiss that view goodbye. We came back to our own big windows that look over the trampoline, swing set, and scattered toys. Today, we went to another clinic for another test, another view. Depending on whether you are a city mouse or a country mouse, you might argue that this view was even more spectacular as it encompassed the downtown city skyline. You can look at that picture and see that it is raining and that the clouds are hiding a lot. It has been raining for an eternity. Everything is wet, soaked, flooded, and feeling the weight of it all. But, if you look a little harder, in the distance, just above the horizon, you will see the clouds are starting to break. The view is about to get a whole lot better.