Her daughter is ill. She spent the last four weeks packing clothes for her because the treatment made her too weak to walk.
“They say the operation is risky,” she tells me.
I try to study her face, but the window behind her lets in too much sunlight. She is a talking silhouette.
“They say she shouldn’t do it abroad, but… I don’t trust the doctors here.”
I wonder what her daughter wants. If she has any control over the decision of where to get treated.
“No offense,” she adds quickly. “You’re one of the few good ones.”
I wonder if she says this to every doctor she visits.
“Let’s measure your weight.” I point to the scale across the room. She is getting thinner. Food doesn’t appeal to her anymore.
“How are you feeling these days?” I arrange the clinical questions about mood in my head.
“Terrible,” she sighs.
“When was the last time you did something you found enjoyable?”
She pauses. A pickup truck sputters outside in the clinic’s parking lot.
“I don’t have time to do anything enjoyable.”
“Do you cry a lot?” I ask.
“Well, wouldn’t you?”
I stop asking questions.
Wouldn’t I cry if my daughter is dying?
If I had to wake up several times at night to make sure she is still breathing?
Wouldn’t I refuse food if I couldn’t imagine my life without her?
Wouldn’t the anxious knots eating away at my insides make me forget hunger?
Wouldn’t I see no point in having fun when my daughter was robbed of joy at such an early age?
Wouldn’t I be angry?
Wouldn’t I be sad?
“I would,” I confess to the shadows on her face. “I would cry, too.”
I halt my urge to medicate her sadness. To numb an emotion that is all too natural for every human to feel. She will cry. She must cry. And I have to accept that it’s not my job to stop it.