Friday, November 19, 2010

A Moment in a Classroom

Tuesday was a long day for me. Very long. I'd worked hard the night before, and we stayed late. I did not get to bed until after midnight. Tim's alarm goes off at 4:50. So I was dragging before I even got to my first class, which begins at 9. By the time that I was headed for my last class, I was seriously dragging butt. I got to the classroom, but the last class was still in the process of departing, but I was so darned exhausted that I simply went in and took my seat at the back of the class anyway.

There was a woman up front speaking to the teacher. I was not eavesdropping. She was speaking loudly enough to plainly be heard.

She walked up to the teacher and said, "I'm sorry that I was not here for the last class."

The teacher said, "That's okay. Do you need the assignment?"

"No," the woman said. But she stood there. Waiting. The teacher was confused, and so was I.

"I had a breast biopsy," the woman said.

The teacher said, "I'm sorry to hear that. I hope that everything's okay."

The woman replied, very disgustedly, "Well, it's not. It's malignant."

The teacher looked shocked and fumbled around for the words. I mean, teachers just don't ask a lot of personal questions about health because of laws and HIPAA privacy and all of that.

This woman though, she volunteered everything. She explained that this was the third time that she had cancer. "I should be dead!" she said, over and over again. Her tragic story went on for some time. "I should be dead!" and she did quite a bit of swearing at cancer. The teacher just listened mostly, and made comforting noises, but I could tell that the woman was expecting more. She wanted a drama. She wanted someone to be shocked with her, and to swear at cancer with her. She wanted to hear that she was a miracle, because she should be dead.

From the back of the classroom, I sat there with my aching bones. I felt like I should speak up, but I felt way too tired for a lot of emoting, and so I felt that this woman would only be disappointed in my response.

"I should be dead." I wondered tiredly if she actually believed that. If she was supposed to be dead, she would be so. It seemed to me that she should be proclaiming "I'm supposed to be alive! I'm supposed to be alive!" She should be feeling that God had a plan and a direction for her life, that she was meant to accomplish something.

At some point, another woman from that class, a young girl really, began to make sympathetic noises and the woman turned from the teacher and began directing her comments in that direction. They walked out of the room together, the woman still swearing about cancer. "I don't know," she said, in a hopeless sort of way. "Three times. I should be dead...."

Although that kind of drama 'turns me off', each and every time that I hear it, I understood what was at the root of it. Beneath all that bluster, beneath that heavy makeup and that showy exterior, beneath all of that, there was a tiny voice, and it was saying, "I cannot believe this is happening again," and "I'm afraid." I understood that small voice much better than I understood the one that everyone else was hearing.


steviewren said...

Maybe raging at cancer so loudly helps her keep that small voice at bay. I can sure understand that and I've never had anything so scary happen to me.

Hope you got some rest and are feeling better.

Kelly said...

I think you're absolutely right.

Mikey said...

Wow, and all of this went down in class? That's a different situation... I feel for her though. While I'd like to say I can imagine, the truth is I surely can't imagine getting that diagnosis for the 3rd time.

Bob said...

She obviously was at a low point. That's understandable. I hope you have the chance to talk with her sometime as I know you would be an encouragement.

BB said...

She needs help. And I guess in her own way she is reaching out - desperate for someone to help quiet that little voice.

Take care of yourself Deb.
I mean it!