We were setting up for a minor procedure to remove a cancer from her cheek. I asked her all the right questions, about when it started, her health, her medications, allergies.
I left the room to draw up some lidocaine for freezing. I came in and went about some other preparation. I heard her say, Kelly, I’m crying, if that means anything.
I walked over, I put my hand on her shoulder and tears were streaming down her face. I asked her what she was most afraid of, what the worst part was. I sat down with her. She was very quiet for a long time. I held her arm because it seemed right.
The plastic surgeon came back in and briefly acknowledged her tears with an offer to postpone the procedure. She declined. He asked me to freeze her cheek and left.
She lay down on the table and I put some gauze over her eyes for comfort, but she was still crying.
Then she said, Kelly I just lost my husband not long ago. I don’t feel like I have anything to live for anymore.
I sat with her for a long time and listened.
He came back in and we cut out the cancer, sewed her up. He asked me to clean up her cheek and bandage it. I did, he left. She slowly sat up and took my hand, walking to the mirror to see her face. I stepped out of the room.
I saw her a few minutes later in the hall. She hugged me and it was the right thing.
Later I told the surgeon about why she had been crying. I don’t get into any of that stuff, he said. I just nodded.