While I was still having my radiation treatment, Ili and I went to have lunch together after my treatment. As usual I start to feel nauseous after we eat. By the time we reach my building I'm not feeling so great. Instead of pulling over on the side that corresponded to her, Ili pulled up to my building and was facing oncoming traffic. Really this is no big deal since I live on a street that receives very little traffic. But it just happens to be that a car - a 7 series BMW to be precise, comes heading down the road and the gentleman inside (mid 30s pretty handsome looking) became visibly upset that we were on the wrong side of the street. He stopped his car so that he could say something (which we could not hear of course) and make hand gestures (not obscene - just venting his upset) at us. I tell Ili that I'm going to go speak with him. So I get out of the car and head over to his window. He looked very annoyed and frustrated. Meanwhile the street is empty; he could have easily gone around Ili's car and headed on his merry way. Clearly the poor guy was just having 'one of those days.' As I am standing at his window he moves the car a tiny bit. I thought that he was going to drive away and leave me standing there. But then he looked at me (I was very calm and smiling) and then he decided to pull down his window. As he is telling me that some people thing they own the road I say to him that I'm only here to try to make him feel a little better about the situation. I then say to him,
"The reason that she is pulled over onto the wrong side of the road is because I don't feel well and I live in this building here. I don't feel well because I have a huge tumor in my head and neck and I just came from my radiation treatment. Also, I'm not supposed to be in the sun, so her being on this side makes the walk in the sun a little shorter for me. I know that you didn't know any of this. But we never really know what's going on with other people. I wrote a blog about this actually. I know some people think they own the road, but that's not what's happening here, and that lady isn't one of those people. I really hope you feel better about all of this now."The guy only skipped one beat. Instantly his face and his whole demeanor changed. He grabbed my hand and held it and then kissed it. He then looked at me and said, "I'm so sorry. I can see I was completely wrong. I know that you are going to be ok and I will be praying for you." He smiled and then drove away waving at Ili.
This whole experience has really opened my eyes to how little we know about what is going on with other people and how important compassion, patience, and understanding are. We don't wear signs on our foreheads stating our current circumstances. In actuality it is very few people who 'think they own the road.' We're only human, trying to get by and be happy and trying to make sure those we care about get by and are happy as well. I know it's easier said than done to be patient and compassionate with others - because we have things to do and places to be as well. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist. I like things done exactly the way that they should be done; I can't stand being late; I've lost my temper over ridiculous things just because something wasn't up to my standards. But this tumor is teaching me many lessons. Undoubtedly one of the biggest lessons is to consider that I have no clue about what others are facing and that my 'standards' may be completely insignificant in comparison.
Thank you tumor for the lesson in humility.