My Corner of the Room
As we move into fall and into the Thanksgiving season, it gives us a great opportunity to remember to find gratitude for our lives and the people in it who make our lives full. Spending time feeling this gratitude and allowing it to seep into our hearts will give us the base for extending it out to the people in our lives, not just through our words, but in our attitude and in our energy given in our daily living.
My Corner of the Room
By Janie Pfeifer Watson, LCSW, LMHP
Bryan L G Hospital? “Do you know how to get to that hospital?” I asked my husband. We left shortly after we received the call. Our daughter was to be taken in for emergency surgery. We rushed the 90 miles to be there while she was in surgery, offering our emotional support and comfort to her and appeasing our own need to make sure things would go as needed. We weren’t real worried as we had confidence that things would go as planned; after all, there is always time to shift that view if things do start to go in a different direction.
We actually arrived before she went into surgery, giving us the opportunity to see her, give her our love, assure her that we would be there as she went through surgery, and say prayers that the angels would join her in the surgery room. We were directed to wait the few hours in the “waiting room” off the surgery area.
We chose a corner of the waiting room where my husband and I could share an end table, have some privacy and have quiet conversation. There were groups congregated throughout the room. Sitting at the other corner across from us were some women. They resembled each other in body build, skin coloring, and mannerisms. I concluded they were sisters or at least part of the same family. The oldest woman of the group appeared to be middle aged and “in charge” of the family. She was acting strong, but her voice would quiver ever so often. Next to her sat a much younger woman, maybe in her twenties. She seemed to glaze over as they sat there, trying to escape the reality of their situation. Sitting along the other wall with them was a young girl, about 12 years old, who was apparently a niece as she referred to the older woman as “Aunt Nicki”.
I was curious as I watched them unobtrusively, not wanting to invade their moments, but also aware that there was pain oozing from that corner of the waiting room. I was aware that we were sitting in our little corner of the world feeling okay, not too worried, assured that our daughter would come through her ordeal and land on her feet without too much difficulty. I felt gratitude as I
knew we were lucky to be in our corner of the waiting room where things were
really going to be fine.
And in my awareness of my gratitude for my side of the corner, I was saddened when I looked around and saw tears, people waiting and waiting. I guess that is what one does in a waiting room. I would catch sound bites from the corner across from us: how lethargic she seemed today; how it wasn’t good. They were pondering about how they were going to get her alive to Denver and what the doctors had really meant when he explained things to them. They knew she would have a ventilator and hoped that she wouldn’t be taken off the transplant list because if that happened, “It was all over”.
In the middle of the room was a round table where two men sat with two women. Initially the conversation had a medical tone with questions hanging in the air around concerns, “His kidneys can’t handle much more; they may shut down”; “his body couldn’t handle much more”. The conversation drifted from one medical concern to another. As time went on, the women disappeared and the two men who appeared to be brothers started talking about themselves and what had been going on in their life. Sounds of their own difficulties and struggles would spark my interest every so often. As time wore on, the conversation became more intimate as it went deeper into each of their lives.
A small framed girl with brown shoulder length hair seemed to appear from nowhere. She was crying as she went to the group in the corner. “I just want my mommy; I just want my mommy”. Her Aunt Nicki picked her up and held her and said, “I know sweetie.” And the strong faces around her lost their veneer as the tears started to roll. I looked at my book but was not able to see the words as I could only imagine how deep the pain ran in the family. They knew that they couldn’t help her feel better. She asked, “Where am I going to go tonight?” and they assured her that she would just hang out with them as they were all staying there for the night. As the tears were wiped, someone said something that made the young girl smile for a moment. But her face was wrenched with pain, her eyes swollen from crying, her heartache beating throughout the room.
I sat in my little corner of the world, watching from afar, but really only six feet away. Close enough to touch them, to hold the little girl. My heart ached for them. We were all fine in my little corner of the world, and across the room a world was shattering. No warning about life or what corner we could be seated in on any particular day.
We only have our moment, the moment in which we live. And I reminded myself that it is only too easy to get caught up in the business of life, taking for granted those whom we love the most. We only can really know about the moment. And I picked up my phone, called my other daughter and then my son to tell them how things were going with their sister and to tell them “I love you.” And then I looked back at my husband sitting in my corner of the world and felt a wave of gratitude that he was in my life. As I felt my heart open up with love, the doctor came in to tell us that all was well, she came out of surgery fine and we could see her in about an hour. We settled in for a bit more time in the waiting room, relieved that things had gone as planned.
Somewhere overhead I heard the speaker saying “Attention all Staff, Code Blue” with some other information after it. It repeated the message and I wondered how people knew where to go to respond. I wondered about whose life was in turmoil and what that family was going through.
Within minutes, one of the women who had been sitting at the table earlier was in the hallway screaming to one of the men at the table. Her voice shrieked with terror and the men jumped up and ran to the hallway where she was crumbling with sobs, tears, and deep continued shrills. They held her but she was limp and fell to the floor and she lay with her head on the floor sobbing. The moment held still for each of us in the “waiting room.”Tags: appreciation for our loved ones, gratitude, not taking others for granted
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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