During those times, I listened to a young man react when his father shared an important regret. I listened to a husband and wife play a well-worn game with their adorable curly-haired pre-school daughter. The fourth bed was empty; at the time I tried not to think about why. Occasionally a nurse would stop by. Briefly looking out the window, I watched some staff throw a birthday party/bbq in the parking lot for a young cancer patient. Amidst all these quiet and soft goings-on, my brother would wake and we would continue our own quiet conversations, as quiet as my brother cared to be.
I found this both heart-rending yet comforting. Don't get me wrong, I know this wasn't about me. But watching my brother sleep, I began to grasp the magnitude of how many people are affected by cancer daily: patients, families, medical professionals. I also began to see that he was not alone in this: many others were sharing the same journey. A sad journey, but still, not alone. He had his wife's support and dedication, terrific children and friends and even one good friend going through cancer herself. I knew all this but my heart wanted more, mostly to ease my guilt and anger and frustration and powerlessness because I would soon leave him and return to my home over 1000 kilometers away.
Today I wonder, during his six months of treatment, what other quiet and soft goings-on he overheard every time he had chemo and radiation and what sort of fear or comfort or both they provided and I hope, hope, hope they helped him feel not alone.