There are moments, surprising and fleeting, that stay with us forever. They’re little and can go unnoticed in our hurried and distracted world. But when we start to pay attention, we crave more of these little moments, which are like tiny kisses of love.
I was 40 years old and decided to get regular mammograms. (I had a friend whose mom died of breast cancer, and I wanted to be proactive.)
So there I sat, dutifully wearing that dreadful polyester printed hospital gown, biding my time in a tiny waiting room. I’m not exaggerating when I say my closet was bigger than the room. And I do not have a large closet. Two benches lined each side of the nook. About two feet separated my knees from the other lady waiting.
The woman with me was probably in her mid to late 60s with graying blonde hair and about my height. I noticed she looked scared and could not stop moving her feet in an erratic pattern.
I wondered if she was schizophrenic. Then I wondered if she was on drugs. At one point, I remember wondering if she was homicidal, and I was going to be her next victim. (Yes, I was a bit dramatic back then.)
So, throwing caution to the wind, I opened with, “Would you like to hold my hand?“
She started crying, but took my hand. Then we talked. I learned her name was Teresa.
“I have Parkinson’s disease and my feet can’t stop shuffling,” she said. “They have a mind of their own.”
Next, Teresa told me she was dying of breast cancer. She shared that her daughter wanted to be with her to the end. Yet she didn’t like the idea of her daughter seeing her dead.
I told her about my time as a substitute teacher. We laughed about these bunnies that I drew. Bunnies with Ta Tas. I drew a bunny for her. (A second grader innocently asked, “How come you drew Ta Tas on my bunny?” I had no idea the paws looked like boobs!)
I don’t know how much time passed. Maybe five minutes? Maybe 50 minutes? We laughed. We cried. We shared. It was timeless.
The nurse called me back first.
I stood. She stood. We hugged.
She said, “I love you and I’ll look down on you from heaven.”
I said, “I love you too. I’ll talk. You listen. And please talk. I will learn how to hear you."
I never saw Teresa again. But here’s the thing: Those we love, even people we only meet once, stay with us. It 's more of these friendships that I still seek.