Her voice came over the phone line, “You let me KNOW next time Andrew’s in the hospital and I’ll come sit with you!”
I thanked her sincerely and hung up. Knowing that she’d never come. We’d been at this chemotherapy for a year and a half already and most people had moved on, forgetting that we still dealt with unending hours in the hospital with my five-year-old somewhere between bored, uncomfortable, drugged sleepy and yet wide-awake—a combination only someone who’s been through childhood cancer can understand.
But the next week, the day before the spinal tap, I emailed my husband’s cousin, as requested, and let her know we’d be in the hospital in her town for about nine hours. I got no response. I expected none.
Driving through pre-dawn to arrive at the hospital for the 6:15 spinal tap, the weight of my son’s life settled on my shoulders and that “I’m all alone” feeling dogged again. Post-op we settled into a room with Dora the Explorer keeping a dopey boy occupied at twice the volume I wanted, but one that seemed to delight my boy. I tried to read but couldn’t focus. The nurse came in with Andrew’s breakfast tray and a cup of coffee for me. She smiled, “You look like you need this!”
I smiled, but didn’t touch the cup on the tray. I hate coffee. I closed my eyes, hearing the chant, “Backpack, backpack!” in the background. Goodness I hate Dora.
Suddenly, I heard a giggle. “You ready for me?” My cousin stood in the doorway with a bright smile wrapped around her face. How does she do that at eight in the morning? She blew on into the room and cracked a joke. We laughed and joked for a bit and her eyes kept drifting to Andrew’s breakfast tray. I encouraged him to eat, but her eyes weren’t looking at his food. Finally she blurted, “Are you going to drink that coffee?” I assured her I wasn’t and she grabbed it and amidst many more jokes, downed my cup of coffee. A few hours later she swept back out of the room – “Places to go, people to see.” she said.
“Call me next time you’re in for a long day. I’ll come by for your coffee!”
I didn’t think she would. It’s pretty boring sitting in there for hours. But she did. I would call, she would come, drink my free parent-coffee, crack jokes, tell stories and keep Andrew and I entertained for a couple of hours.
She moved to the other side of the country before we were done with chemo, but every time the hospital sent in my cup of coffee, I smiled. Free cup of coffee with my sister-cousin in the hospital. What a gift!The gift of your presence is a beautiful present. #fmfparty #caregiver via @caregivermom Click To Tweet
Has someone ever gifted you with their presence?