A drink would be fine. I watch as she rummages thru her purse for change. My eyes follow her to the vending machine in the corner of the room.
“I want to go home,” my son says. “Can’t we just go home?”
I want to go home, too. Actually, I’d like to go back in time.
If I have to sit here and wait until the sun no longer shines, there is zero chance that I am leaving this room without seeing the doctor first. I put my arm around my son’s boney shoulders. At six foot three he is barely 140 pounds.
“We can’t go home,” I say.
My mom returns and hands me a Sprite, hands him a Dr. Pepper – his favourite.
“Thanks mom,” I say, but I don’t pop the top. I bend over and place the unopened can on the aseptically clean tile floor.
In my teens, I heard a sermon about this verse in the Bible where King David writes, Bless the Lord, oh my soul.
“He spoke to his soul,” the preacher said. “He told his soul what to feel and what to do, even when his soul wasn’t feeling it on its own.”
This, the point of the sermon, has stayed with me throughout my life. The idea that you can stir up your soul by self-talk was with me in those moments when, as a young woman I worked in quasi-missionary service in my home country of Canada, during my marriage to an atheist husband, over the years of post-divorce experimentation and partying and sabbatical from my faith, and even now, returned to the church, trying to hold together my life and the lives of my four precious children.
Today, sitting on this hard plastic chair with my mother on one side and my son on the other and this side-show of broken humanity surrounding me, I proceed with my own version of soul-talk:
Do not cry! You will hold it together! You can do this! It is going to be okay. Do not cry!
I look at the clock on the wall, hands edging towards four pm. We have been waiting three hours now. The bile and the panic swell inside me, heedless of the orders my desperate mind issues, threatening to overflow the boundaries of my clogged larynx and turn my personal agony into a public spectacle.
An attractive blond woman enters the waiting room. Tall, slim, and young, she is heading our way, which must make her the mental health social worker we have been waiting for. She introduces herself and shakes my hand and invites us to follow her.
The three of us stand and walk.