Heroic virtue hiding behind a shaved head and hoodie

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God is the only one who can see what effort we're giving or withholding ... but sometimes the rest of us get a peek too.

He was visiting, I thought. As he hesitated a few feet inside the door, I looked around for the grandparent’s face that would light up when they saw their grandson had come to join them. He looked about 20, wearing jeans and a hoodie, with a shaved head, his face a little doughy as if he didn’t get outside enough. Then a nurse said, kindly, “You can have this chair in the corner.”

Friend - Infusion - Room - Cancer - Center

I had come with a friend to the infusion room at the cancer center. The boy had not shaved his head but lost all his hair to chemo. He looked doughy not because he didn’t exercise enough but because he was being fed chemicals that attack the body in the hope of killing the cancer first.

The nurse helped him into the chair and then three of them took care of him. Usually only one nurse attends a patient. He sat next to us, about eight feet behind me, partly hidden behind a curtain pulled out a couple of feet from the wall.

Nurses - Station - Middle - Room - Blood

One nurse went to the nurses’ station in the middle of the room to read his blood work. “Oh, that’s low,” she said to herself, and then called out a number. I think she said “platelets.”

She got up and walked over to him and said, in the voice of someone delivering bad news, “They may keep you overnight, till that goes up. I don’t know if they’re going to, but they might. I just want you to know.” From the way she said it, I think “might” meant “would,” and “overnight” meant “for a few days,” and I think the young man knew...
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