Thursday, March 28, 2013

Shit... Compassion

My first roommate makes me feel lucky, among other things. She has tumors in her lungs and she smokes and drinks coffee all day and into the evening. She's pretty grubby, too. I'm guessing she's actually in her 60s, but she looks older. Her teeth are removable. Her hearing is poor. She's been at the hospital for four weeks straight for treatment, with another fortnight or so to go. I'm comforted by my relative health and consciousness and I am judging her. She has problems that she is exacerbating, and so I sit safely within my bubble of judgement and look down.

I should at least feel ashamed of being judgmental. What do I know about her life and who am I to say what she should be doing? I should be ashamed? But I can't help it. I try to feel sympathetic but just thinking about how sad the situation is makes me start to tear up. If I attempt sympathy, it's overwhelming, and I cry.

Fortunately, as my eyes swim she comes into the room and emits a smoker's cough that is more accurately described as a chest rumble, and I can move from tearful sympathy to slightly disgusted pity once again. Safe.

When I go for my evening chamomile tea, I bring back two cups. She's never had chamomile tea before, she doesn't know what it is, but she is so grateful. For the next round we go together, because she didn't realize there was a drinks station. I show her my ginger paste, which I will turn into tea, and she doesn't know what Ingwer (in German) is. She refills her coffee and I choke down the ginger which is too strong, but so good for me.

She doesn't seem to be feeling any side effects from her treatment, which is radiotherapy and now also chemo, but I'm guessing she's on the same meds as I am, if not more. She mimed at her meager dinner that she's not really hungry, but I told her we have to eat anyway. She falls asleep with the TV on. How can I tell? She snores. I think we're going to be friends.


  1. Behold but One in all things; it is the second that leads you astray.

  2. Ahh yes! But remember, The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

  3. Ramona, after reading your latest blog update ... I have to say you are an amazing woman with a great sense of the life surrounding you, and this partnered with a beatiful gift of being able to share it. Your description of the reality around you is refreshing as you touch our own sense of feelings and thoughts... and then you add a breath of wonderful humor and humanity to it all. I cry and laugh and cry some more because you are so honest and beautifully real. I want to thank you for your writings. Your words touch people. At a time when we want to comfort you, we find you ministering to us by sharing your world. Love you!