hospital

Dear Girl in the Waiting Room

Yesterday I took my mom to a doctor’s appointment and I saw you sitting in the waiting room. We both had our masks on and we both listened as the door opened and closed with nurses calling name after name of someone else who had one reason or another to start their week at the doctor.

When they called my mom’s name, I put an AirPod in and started listening to music. I wished I’d brought my Kindle, but I settled for a halfhearted scroll through social media. The office phone rang. A sneaker squeaked in the hallway. Patients shuffled in and out and suddenly it was just you and me, sitting a few rows apart, waiting.

Unlike me, you didn’t have your phone in your hand. In fact, your hands sat purposefully in your lap, fingers folded into each other, a medical bracelet around your wrist. Your hair was straightened, and your eyeliner looked not only practiced but perfected. Your elbow tucked your purse into your side and your eyes stayed glued on the ground. You were focused. Serious. Maybe even nervous.

Maybe you were there for a routine x-ray. Maybe it was nothing to worry about. Maybe it was just an early morning and you were tired, stressed or trying to prepare yourself for the rest of the day. Or maybe you were sitting there wondering. Wondering if you were about to get news you didn’t want to hear. Wondering if this was going to be the day that changed everything. Wondering if you’d often think about this morning, about how you straightened your hair, did your makeup, and pretended like this was just another day—when it wasn’t.

When they finally called your name, I watched as you flinched, as you quickly gathered your things and made your way through the door. And then, for a few minutes, I sat alone, wondering. Hoping. That everything was normal. Or better. Or completely treatable. Hoping that the news you were about to be given was good news, manageable news, news that made you breathe a sigh of relief, erasing all those horrible possibilities you dreamed up in the purple chairs of the waiting room.

As my mom walked back out and we made our way to the car, I left behind wishes for only good things for you. For this to be just a casual day. A casual appointment. A cautious but clear checkup. A reminder that everything is going to be okay.

And I hoped you did the same for us.