Now that I can start to see improvements in my son's health, the visit to the Hospital restaurant is turning into something of a people watching experience. As they say - all human life is here. And I am learning the trick of seeming to look one way whilst my gaze is concentrated on another.
Today I watched a young woman following a complicated ritual surrounded by the ebb and flow of the staff and 'sleeping in parents'. I had a hunch, based on prior experience, that this was someone with an eating disorder and my observations seemed to prove me right.
She was very calculating in her design. She took a table for four and put something, a coat, bag, briefcase (she did appear to be staff rather than visitor) on each of the chairs. Then she made two visits to the counters returning with the basics of four meals which she set out in front of each chair. When she was happy with the layout she sat down and ate the first of the meals, disappeared; returned with an extra coffee which replaced the finished meal; sat at another chair and ate the next meal; and so on... She made sure that she choregraphed her movements and the condition of the table so that no-one would notice -she always seemed to be waiting for someone. All this time she was scanning the room in case someone was watching, I managed to deflect my gaze a few times, then wondered if I should acknowledge her..but then what?
This event was a practiced ritual that had lasted how many weeks or months? In this moment she probably felt in control of her compulsion, maybe she was. Would her noticing that I had noticed 'rock the boat'.
I decided that I was best moving tables, so as not to tempt fate and sat looking over another cup of coffee.
The thing is that lots of us are like that young woman, and here I am portraying one of my favourite faults; jumping to conclusions.
Sometimes we seem to get very attached, almost obsessed over the things that are wrong in our lives. We say 'we can't' because -we are useless - nothing ever goes right - we can't be trusted - bad things always happen. We preserve these myths by being justified when they happen and when they don't happen - that's just a fluke! We own our faults so thoroughly that we identify ourselves by them; in reality we limit ourselves by them. Sometimes we take so much time and effort protecting the right to be 'damaged' when we could using the same time and energy undoing the 'damage'. In all honesty, the only way to heal that sort of damage involves a little 'rocking the boat' and a lot of being gentle with yourself, and, if you believe, taking yourself back to God for a little inpouring of Grace. Because as clever as you are -you can't do it on your own.
When I got back to the Ward, my son was completing a 'well-being' questionnaire. One question was ' On a scale of 1-10 how attractive do you feel? He had put 'Because the treatment has given me spots - about an 8, but when they've gone I'll be back to a 10!' There's someone who knows they are loved!