“Why are we in this room?” Ben’s wary voice wavered. He froze solid as his big brown eyes scanned the perimeter of his surroundings – as if he were searching the room for secret ninjas. He slowly tucked his trusty DS under his arm as he looked around, his head absolutely still but his eyes pivoting as his brain reeled. His expression was heartbreaking. It was suspicion mixed with dread mixed with “Oh, Crap. Here we go again.”
We were in a bad news room.
It’s no secret that the oncology floor is seeing increased traffic these days. More children are getting diagnosed with cancers and undergoing wicked treatments in order to save their lives. The waiting room is nearly always crammed full of children trying to be children despite their circumstances, while their families sit on plastic chairs in various stages of mental anguish. It’s hard to say why there’s such an influx of childhood cancer. Maybe it’s our environment (which is what I believe.) Maybe it’s the food the FDA has wrongfully approved. Maybe it’s solely genetic and we should stop breeding immediately. Maybe it’s God’s punishment. He said He’d never flood the earth again but He never promised He wouldn’t wipe us out with cancer. I don’t know the answer. Heck. I don’t even know how I’m going to make it through today.
But I knew we weren’t getting bad news. At least, not today. It was simply an unfortunate fact that all the other rooms were being used. We had to wait somewhere. Even though I explained it to Ben, he wasn’t convinced. As his body tensed with mistrust, he continued to search for those secret ninjas as he slowly perched on yet another piece of plastic furniture. He gave the room one last dubious scan as he slowly opened his DS to free his mind. Within seconds, he had delved into whatever world was flashing across the screen of his DS, forgetting all about the bad news room.
We’ve been conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs. Certain sounds, smells, locales, will throw us into tail spins, making us salivate for the lives we thought we signed up for. Oh, a “normal life” makes our hearts ache for places where bad news rooms don’t exist. I know that everyone has to spend a little time in a bad news room once in a while, but it’s simply not acceptable to sign a lease on one of these joints. The rent is too high and the amenities suck.
People have said that we’re lucky we get to meet sports heroes and go on a wish trip and get all sorts of swag. But if you’ve spent extended amounts of time in a bad news room, then you’d understand that there’s no luck to it at all. It’s simply a distraction from reality. “Sorry you’re getting all this bad news but LOOK OVER HERE! I’ll give you a present in exchange for this hellish experience.”
No, I’ll take the world where bad news rooms are an occasional risk and regular life resumes shortly thereafter. Bad news rooms should be the length of a commercial, not a long-running series. I’ll opt for the environment that doesn’t make my adrenaline flow with the dread of “Oh, shit.” I’ll trade places with my son if it means he gets to move out of this bad news room and live happily ever after.
Did you hear that, God? I’ll take his place. I will. Willingly. If it means he can grow up and bless this world with his wonderfulness, I’ll do it without a shred of reluctance. He has so much to offer this world. And it’s clear that my job was to get him here so he can spread his wonderfulness, so my job is done. And I’m not insured so my battle will be short-lived. I cannot afford the treatment. I’ll go quietly.
I know my pleas reverberate off the stark walls of a bad news room. I know the echoes bounce around and fall on ears that aren’t able to hear. I feel the knowing hand on my shoulder of those who are sorry but can’t do anything more to help. And it breaks my heart that I’m put in the position of doing the same thing to my son. My sorry hand rubbing his back, knowing how much it hurts but completely unable to do anything about it.
I wish I could pull a “Hunger Games” and volunteer as tribute. Let me navigate this bad news room.
I’ll do anything to spare my son.