Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
We detest the moments when the world we’ve settled into changes. These events transpire unexpectedly; we hear the “click” of the door that has locked behind us, a door devoid of even a window to peer through. The cold wind of absence welcomes us to exile. The moments occur when the things and people and places in the world we’ve painted break or move or crumble. As the color drains from life, we spend our energy working to beat down the door, just to remember what it was like right before the world changed forever. We gently rattle the locked handle a moment, and then do so violently. We use our shoulder as a medieval battering ram, as if our aggression might force us back through reality’s barred door. As our conscience accepts that we’re locked out, we give a couple kicks before we slide down the door to sit as if to give truth the cold shoulder. Like a child that’s just been shoved out of his playroom, we park ourselves at the base of the door, unwilling to step off the porch into the barren wasteland.
We experienced such a wrecking ball at my most recent check up. Our hospital routine went smoothly as I checked in at the cancer center and then hiked down the mile-long hallway to Radiology. When I found out I would wait an hour for my CT scan, I worked my way around protocol by arranging for my visit with our doctor to precede the scan. Dr. Roth entered with his usual chirpy greeting, which has increased exponentially since we started bringing the babies. Having missed their nap, the twins’ response didn’t reflect his joy. He flipped through some of his folders as we made small talk. In a movie, the music would have stopped right as he changed the subject: he plans to leave Vanderbilt for Washington University. Not the worst news I could receive in the cancer wing of a hospital, but a tear in the Thomas Kinkaid of my life, for sure.
On the drive home, I found myself running in vain up a slide too slick while Status Quo looked down upon me. Often in life, it’s only when the piece is removed from a puzzle that we realize something is missing. I continue to grieve over the loss of a puzzle piece. God weaved Dr. Roth into the fabric of our lives so naturally that he’d become like family. We trusted him to monitor my health and honestly looked forward to my check-ups. My next visit in August will be Rothless. I’m so thankful that I’m almost to three years; the chances for relapse are statistically in the rearview mirror.
A funny story involving Dr. Roth that dates back to my last blog update: I wrote previously about a USA Today article that warned of the dangers of flippantly prescribed CT scans. I brought the article to get Dr. Roth’s thoughts. He barely gave it a glance before remarking, “Oh yeah, Liz from USA Today calls me periodically to check her facts about these things before publishing, and…” The press consults my doctor before printing the USA Today. If I didn’t realize the good hands I’ve been in, I do now. It’s safe to say if my cancer markers ever progress from innocence, I will check to see if Southwest flies to St. Louis.