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Mother’s day: Kindness by an Angel in the Hospital Cafeteria
On this Mother’s Day I want to celebrate it with acts of kindness even though I‘m sad and have been crying today. Kindness is the spirit of my mother and was seen in the things she did for people. And kindness from others is what helped me through my mother’s difficult fight against cancer for three years. This is my first Mother’s Day since she died from leukemia about 8 months ago. The kindness from a stranger is what I think about as this Mother’s Day nears.
The doctor is talking to me. This time he’s not looking at stacks of papers listing my mom’s hematocrit counts, potassium levels, and such. There is no discussion of if she needs platelets before she gets infusion this time. “Your mother… isn’t getting better, the treatment isn’t working. There’s nothing else I can –” I looked down at his shoes. They are brown, freshly polished, conservative. Typical doctor shoes. Those shoes were nice. He was nice. “There will be no more chemo.” There. Would. Be. No. More. Chemo. And those words were not nice as they sat like hard pebbles in the pit of my stomach. I stumbled out the hospital room.
I went downstairs to the cafeteria to try and eat something so I wouldn’t pass out. I hadn’t been eating properly for the last week or so. I barely noticed a few people sitting near me. Several people were talking loudly at a nearby table. A woman sat by herself at the table in front of me.
My head ached. My heart felt so heavy. I sat down staring at—I have no idea what I was on my plate—but I stared at the food on my plate. Those damn words floated in my head: Your mother isn’t getting better. I took a small bite of food and as I swallowed, words circled in my head: There will be no more chemo. There will be no more chemo. Then my mind exploded. But she was in remission just four months ago. She can’t be dying. No, no!! I yelled inside my head until finally I burst into tears. I cried almost choking on the food. I lay my head on the table crying.
Someone gently patted my back. I looked up and it was the woman sitting by herself. She looked at me with a knowing look as she kneeled down next to me, and I instantly lay my head on her chest. She hugged me and I hugged her back so tightly.
She whispered to me, “I don’t know who you are and what your situation is. But you need a hug just like I needed one yesterday but no one was around to give me one.”
The woman rocked me and rubbed my head while I cried for I don’t know how long, on her shoulder. Finally I stopped crying and looked at her. She was tiny, with stringy blonde hair and had on a plain brown jacket. In her eyes I saw sadness. She looked tired. Just like me. Her face was etched with anxiousness and exhaustion. Just like my face. Something terrible was grasping her spirit, but she was holding herself together. The woman smiled, a half crooked smile that was full of love and understanding.
I smiled back. “Thank you I needed that. You’re my angel.”
My angel said, “Everything will be okay. You will be okay.”
I nodded and finished eating. She picked up her tray and left.
And as I walked out the cafeteria my heart wasn’t quite as heavy as it had been. I thought about the woman, the stranger that comforted me. She didn’t know me. But she knew that I needed help at that moment. Her unexpected kindness helped me when I needed it the most. And it’s something my mother would have done if she saw someone crying. I play that scene inside my head today as I remember the love that I was shown by my angel. I remember the kindness my mother always showed people around her, even the people that mistreated her.
I love you. I miss you so much mom. I will always love you.