With the windows down on the non-airconditioned mini van on this 90-something degree day, I headed to the hospital for a heart stress/echo test. Doc thought it was a good idea to have an ECG (electrocardiogram) with my family history and some symptoms I've been having. With my tennis shoes in tow, I walked in and checked in at the front desk.
I was brought to the emergency room to have a nurse put in an i.v. for the procedure. I picked up the "Bazaar" magazine from the table and started some skimming while waiting to hear my name called. A woman with a young girl in her arms and a barefooted brother following behind walked in the door. The girl had cut her foot on some glass at the beach and had her big brothers t-shirt wrapped around her foot. They checked her out and took the young family back to an exam room.
Next a woman in her late 50's walked in and asked about a man that had been brought in earlier by ambulance. She said she worked with him. They asked her to take a seat. Within a few minutes another woman, also late 50's, early 60's walks in and greets the previous woman. Obviously distraught, this was the wife of the man brought in by ambulance. She went up to the desk with the co-worker and was asked to take a seat. I heard the co-worker say to the wife "he'll be just fine, he's a tough old coot."
Two women came out of the ER and went to the wife and introduced themselves as nurse "so and so" and this is "so and so" the social worker and would she, the wife, come with them to speak to the doctor. My heart sunk...social worker. They walked out of the ER waiting room down the hall a bit and I heard a door click shut. Moments later I heard only her wails.
The heart wrenching sounds brought tears immediately. I felt like an invader in possibly the most horrible moment of her life - learning of the death of her husband. More wails. I looked over my shoulder at the co-worker seated behind me and her eyes were fixed down the hall with her hand over her mouth and tears running down her cheeks. In a few moments the doctor came for the co-worker and said the wife had asked for her.
I thought of my husband John immediately. How that could be him, that could be me, it could be any one of us at any time. My thoughts then raced to my Mom, who 33 years ago was that woman in a slightly different situation. I then wondered, what was the last thing I said to John? I didn't like the answer.
After the hour long procedure and my heart had been echoed, stressed, recorded, contrasted and imaged, I walked out into the heat again with tennis shoes in tow. As I left the parking lot of the hospital, I thought of the wife in the emergency room. How her life had changed in an instant. It was then I called my husband John at work and made sure the last thing I said to him was "I love you."