The Chair Next to Me

Most women are blessed, at least once in their life, with a girlfriend who is nothing short of a gift from God. Among the small handful of such girlfriends in my life is Nickole, who I have known since the 6th grade. At the time of my diagnosis, Nickole had a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and was pregnant. And she’s also the person who was sitting at my side for my 1st chemotherapy infusion.

My mother would have been there in a moment, had I let her, and there is host of other people I could have asked to come, but Nickole was the first person who simply said she would be there, and then was. For all 5 hours.

My dad stepped in and took the burden from Nickole, showing up the night before each consecutive infusion day and rising first thing with me to get me to those unpleasant appointments. He always paid the exorbitant parking fee we were soon to get used to, always brought me a muffin or a sandwich, and always stayed close, whether pacing the hallways or settling into a folding chair at my side.
At first I would try to discourage him from coming, assuring him he didn’t need to make the two hour drive to accompany me. The memory of this will astonish me over the remainder of my life: I received 6 terrible rounds of chemotherapy; I was prepared to do it alone.
In the moment, it’s about practicality. Life morphs into appointment after appointment and I simply coped with a head-down, get through each one, kind of mentality. In retrospect, even more so than at the time, I am so glad my dad was there to sit next to me, to drive me, to be there. I also understand that, for himself, he had to do his part to try to take care of me.

So many loved ones will help me get to, and through, medical procedures, will help me look after Little H, help me keep my household running and put dinner on the table, help me feel loved in a time of brokenness.

But today I thank Nickole and my father, for sitting next to me.

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