Visits From A Man Named Nobody 83

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 83

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A tear fell down her cheek.  “It hurt so much.”

Paul moved to her and wrapped her in his arms. “I’m sorry. I hate that this is happening to you. But don’t feel guilty. You don’t have to put yourself through pain.”

His voice cracked, but he managed to get it all out. They held each other there, unsure of how much time passed, until Dr. Feniker walked in. 

He smiled down at them. “It’s obvious the treatments are having an extreme effect. With only one treatment to go, I think the best thing to do is at least take a look at your scans to see if there’s been any impact.”

“What if there hasn’t been?” Paul asked. “She couldn’t possibly go through all of this again.”

Feniker grimaced. “I wish there was something I could say. For now, there are too many questions, and the answers won’t come until we see what’s going on. We’ve prepared the examination room for her MRI, and someone will be in soon. Once we get a look, we’ll at least know what we’re up against.”

“Does she have to do it now?” Paul asked. “Can’t she get some sleep?”

“I slept for hours. Once they gave me all that medicine, I fell asleep, and they went looking for you.” She pointed at his forehead, where the red mark from sleeping on it was probably still present. “Looks like you were getting some sleep, too, wherever you were.”

“I thought I’d only dozed off for a minute.”

Feniker coughed. He’d probably wondered if they had forgotten he was there.

“Looks like we’re as ready as we’re going to be,” his mother said. 

Feniker nodded. “A tech will be here shortly.” He left.

True to his word, for once, a tech arrived after another few moments. The slender woman brought a wheel chair with her. “Let’s get you into the examination room.”

She helped Paul get his mother situated on the wheel chair. Paul pushed the chair, following the tech to the lab. They hadn’t done any additional scans since his mother was diagnosed, but he felt comfortable helping to place her in the machine. The tech pointed to a waiting area, and Paul went and sat there, waiting for them to finish their work. 

Paul rested his head in a hand, rubbing at his temples with his thumb and middle finger. Please, let it be that the tumor is small enough. Please don’t put her through any more.  

Without anything else to do, Paul felt strangely comfortable each time he prayed. However, to his mind the prayer was over. As he waited, he was more or less thinking in God’s direction, and he wasn’t sure that counted. It would be pointless to try and work or rest. His thoughts kept jumping to his mother. 

After a while, Paul realized that it had been a long time. He figured he was just worried, so he checked his PID. Then he waited another hour. It wasn’t as if he could go to anyone to ask what was going on, but he started tracking the time. Another hour passed. By that point, Paul was willing to talk to the first person he could find. He stood up to do just that when the technician came through the door with his mother. 

“I’m so sorry for the wait,” she said. 

“What happened?” Paul asked. 

Her face scrunched up. “I don’t actually know. We tried to do the scan, but something must be wrong with our machines.”

“Machines?” 

“We have two, so we brought her to the second one, but whatever is going on is happening to both,” she explained. “We tried each machine at least three times, but we can’t get  … “ she paused as if thinking about how to explain her point. “We can’t get a clear reading.”

“So whatever is happening is affecting the reading?” Paul asked.

The technician shrugged.

“They must have put me in there a half-dozen times,” his mother said. “But after each time, they just asked me to do it again.”

Paul must have glared at the technician because she put up her hands defensively. “We were only trying to get a clear reading. But there’s nothing else we can do.  Maybe the scan was affected by what we gave her for her pain. Maybe it’s the machine. Either way, we know the fastest way to get results is to send her to another hospital. We’ve set up an appointment for you at another laboratory.”

“Are we heading there now?” Paul asked. It had already been 16 hours at this hospital. Nap or no nap, Paul knew his mother had to be exhausted.

“The appointment is in three days,” the technician said. “That way, the pain medication will have had time to leave her system. So if that’s what was affecting the scan, we’ll know it won’t this time.”

“How could her medication affect her treatment?” Paul asked.

“Sometimes different medications had an impact on the brain. It can cause MRI results to be hard to make out,” the technician answered, turning to look at Paul’s mother. “As long as you’re pain free, we can wait.”

“What if the pain comes back?” Paul asked. 

“You’re mother says the pain and other side effects are most severe the night of a treatment, so there’s a good chance to worst of it is over. We just want to get that scan done before the next treatment is supposed to happen.”

Paul looked at his mother, who shrugged. “You still feel better.”

She gave him a weak smile. “I’m just tired, and there really isn’t anything these people can do.”

Paul nodded. “So we can go home?”

“We just need to finish off the paperwork, and you’ll be on your way,” the technician said. “When you check out, you can pick up the referral for the new scan.”

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 76

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 76

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The hard part was watching Derek put the needle in. A part of him understood that he didn’t have to watch. That part was dwarfed by a strange compulsion to stare. Even once the IV was set up, Paul watched as the solution poured down from the bag and into her arm. He hated seeing it even as he hoped that this solution would do its job. 

Paul sat near his mother and held her hand as she read. She whispered the words to herself so low he couldn’t make them out. The entire process felt surreal to him. He’d watch her lips move, look at her arm and the solution, look up at the bag, and look back at her. He couldn’t tell if Derek had left or not, and Paul didn’t spare a moment to look around for him. 

“Do you need anything?” he asked.

She smiled at him, patting his hand. “I have everything I need.”

“I could get you some water or maybe a pillow?” He wanted to do something, anything. 

Her smile widened. “I’m OK.” She turned back to her reading.

Each of the bags seemed to deflate. Derek must have been there. At the very least, he came back to switch bags, but Paul never noticed.  

His mother looked away from her reading again. “I love you.” Her eyes hardened. She spoke so forcefully, as if she’d never said the words before and was desperate for him to believe her. 

He smiled. “I know.”

She shook her head. “Do you understand what love is?”

He looked at her. “Sure.”

She stared at him. Did he actually expect him to define the term? 

He stammered. “It’s … well, it’s when you care about someone. It’s when they’re important to you.”

She nodded, but it wasn’t one that conveyed agreement. “I think most people think that way, but love is so much more.” 

She waved her hand around the room. “You took time off work. You help around the house.”

“Most the people who visit the house just sort of appreciate that I stay out of the way.” Paul wasn’t sure why he felt the urge to fell embarrassed, but he did.

“You’re here now, when you could be somewhere else,” she said. 

“Where else would I go?” Did she think he’d leave her? “Mom, I’m right here.”

She nodded, and this time her smile showed she agreed with his words. “I know you love me because you’re caring for me now. You’re sacrificing a chance to do more at work, and I know you’re still using that brain of yours. But you’re here with me.”

“I’m not leaving you!” This time it was Paul’s turn to speak with urgency. 

She smiled again. “I know. My point is, love is sacrifice. Anyone can say someone is important, but we show importance by how we prioritize things. When we’re willing to give up ourselves for someone else, we show our love for them.”

“Where is this coming from?” Paul let out a chuckle. 

“Because as much as I love you, though I’m willing to give up everything for you, there’s something I can’t do.” A tear rolled down her cheek.

“What? Mom, is something wrong?” Paul stood up and looked around for Derek. Was she in pain? 

He was about to call out when his mother said, “I can’t save you.”

Paul let out a long, slow breath. He was worried she was in pain, and she was just gearing up for a sermon. She was giving a speech right there in the treatment center. 

“Oh, I know that look,” his mother said. “If you must be mad at me, be mad, but I don’t frankly know when or how else to tell you this.”

Paul plopped down in the chair, gritting his teeth. “I already know your point.”

“Then give me the decency to allow me to say it, and maybe without looking like I’ve just slapped you.” She gave him a stern look. He shut his eyes. 

She’s afraid, and she wants to say her piece.

That thought actually made him more angry for a second. He didn’t want to lose her in the first place. But if he wanted to be near her, he’d better get more than a little used to her faith. She’s worth that much and more.

He opened his eyes to find her smiling. “Thank you. I would give my life for you to have anything, but Christ died so that you can have everything, and whatever happens, before things get bad, I wanted to tell you that. I understand you’re hurt, but all the pain we face in this world isn’t worth comparing to the glory to come.”

He gave her his full attention, hoping to at least show her he cared about her enough to hear her out. After she hadn’t said anything for another few moments, he nodded. 

“Thank you,” she said. 

That was it? He’d thought she would want some sort of statement or affirmation. He was really worried he’d have to lie to her to make her feel better.

“Would you believe in God if I got better?” she asked.

Paul gave a scoffing laugh before he could stop himself. He also couldn’t avoid opening his mouth to talk. “I’d believe the doctors were good at what they did.”

She nodded. Paul worried she would be angry at his mocking tone, but she only shrugged. “I see,” she said. “So man gets the credit for anything good that happens, but God only gets the blame for the bad things.”

He let out another sigh. He’d walked right into that one. 

She shook her head. “Just a point I wanted to emphasize to you. My son, we’ve both felt pain that no one should ever have to, but one day, you’ll see that it all works for your good.”

Bill died for his good. His biological father beat him for his own good. His mother got cancer for his own good.

“There’s that look again,” she muttered. “Keep that temper for three more seconds. I promise you; one day, you’ll see it.”

Paul’s breathing grew faster. She was talking like a crazy person! Here she is, near to death, and she still wanted to say her God loved her.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

The words sucked the anger right out of him. “For what?” 

“I know the thought angers you,” she admitted. “So I really appreciate you listening with such patience.”

He looked at her, worried she’d want more of that patience.

“Like I said.” She held up her hands in surrender. “That’s all I wanted to say.”

He studied the tiled floor. He was angry, but did he really want to take her faith from her at a time like this? 

No, he realized. Let her have it if it makes her feel better.