Trading places

Appointments have come in a flurry. The name being called is not mine. The treatment being given isn't for me. There is a strange sensation of walking into a familiar, yet unknown world. It is no longer my normal journey with cancer, but one that has yet to be explored; a foreign place with a new path to make. This journey, and these steps, belong to my mom.The well-known door labeled radiology looms in front of us. For me, it is encased with a new sense of responsibility. "Caution," "danger," "radiation area" and "do not enter" seemingly jump from the walls with new meaning. I remember when the wait was for my treatment and the realization that the message was apparent ... KEEP OUT. This room is a hazard to the average person but for me, so many others, and now for my mom it is a room that holds hope. As we sit in the waiting room, our conversations remain light. We talk about lunch, the kids and a possible shopping excursion when we leave. We don't discuss the door or the room it shelters from the rest of the world. We don't even mention the fact that it is behind these walls that my mom will receive a cure. My mom walks bravely through the door when her name is called, and my heart swells with pride. I am left to wonder what is happening. Are they lining up the machine? Is she comfortable on the table? Is she scared? Is everyone treating her well? Does she hear the bump of the machines and see the flash of lights? Is she saying silent prayers of her own? Holding her breath? Or breathing a sigh of relief? Not long ago, I prayed for miracles to take place behind this door. I wanted for my pain to disappear and for more time to spend with family. That happened. Today I uttered a similar prayer for my mom.I brought a cup of coffee to my dad, who had been unusually quiet. He looked at me and shared the words that I had wanted to say, "I wish I could do this for her." So many times, friends and family have said that to me. I suddenly understand the feelings behind "How I wish I could trade places." If only...