There was a wonderful story in this Sunday's New York Times written by Sally G. Hoskins, a woman who is fighting breast cancer for the second time. But the story was only peripherally about her cancer. It was more about the camaraderie of women, even a few
women thrown together for a short time in a waiting room.
Hoskins tells of a day in a hospital when she, and several other women, found themselves in a surgical waiting room together with overlapping appointments. The hours spent together as they came and went for their procedures were not special, which in fact is what made them special. The time together was merely happenstance, a byproduct of overzealous scheduling.
Yet on this day, in those few hours, the women became a group. They compared tests. They held their gowns closed and coped with their hospital-issue disposable underwear. They shared worry, laughter, biopsy stories, and, in the author's case, a dose of Xanax. They participated in the long-held, yet unspoken tradition that says "If you need it and I have it in my purse, it's yours." And then they all went their separate ways, back to their separate lives on an ordinary day.
The author writes:
"...I went confidently to Step 5, the wire insertion, knowing I would bob along the surface of my fear for the rest of the day. Yes, I was buoyed in part by my Xanax-filled water wings. But what really kept me afloat was the one thing I had mistakenly believed I could do without: the loving care that flows freely among female strangers even in short-term groups like this one, established within minutes and disbanded just as quickly, only to re-form with a whole new cast in the next waiting room, and the next."
Here's a link to the whole article:
One day a lot of years ago, I'd found out that my father just had a few weeks to live. I was on the way home, stuck in an airport between flights. I was bereft, and I sought out a corner chair to sit in, enduring the wait. At some point a man came up to me and asked if I was all right. Uncharacteristically, I told him no, I wasn't, I'd just found out my father had cancer and was trying to get home. He sat with me for several minutes, talked to me quietly and with encouragement, wished me the best, and then walked away. I never knew who he was, but he made a huge difference to me that day. It's stuck with me for more than two decades.
Was there a time when you felt the camaraderie of strangers?
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