Today I waited on a man named John. It was near the end of a busy day at the Pancake Man, when he and his companion, a small brunette woman were seated in my section. I greeted them as I greet all my customers and set about bringing them what they wanted. Moving quickly I didn’t notice much about them except how thin and gaunt John appeared and how it took him a while to decide what to eat.
As I served them, my station began to empty, the restaurant neared the time to close. I approached their table, noticing it had taken them a very long time to eat only a small portion of their food. I started to clear the table when John spoke up and said, “if you don’t mind too much, please leave all the dishes on the table. I feel as though I’m being rushed out the door and I need a little more time.” He seemed near to either aggravation or sadness, so I quickly replaced their dishes to the table and set about making sure he knew I was not going to rush him to do anything.
His disposition softened somewhat and as I stood there he looked at me and said “ have you ever seen such a bony chest bone as this?”. As he said that he pulled his sweater away from his neck to display the skeletal area. In an instant I knew John was not just really skinny. He was sick. I gazed into his eyes and said, only once have I seen that type of boniness and it was on me when I went through chemo. John replied “that is what I am going through right now”.
He went on to explain he had colon cancer that had metastasized, he had had surgeries and was now undergoing what I know to be the seventh circle of hell, chemotherapy. He became increasingly disturbed as he told his sad tale to me. His companion sat and listened with tears streaming down her face. He introduced her as his ‘permanent fiance’ and told me how he had taken care of her when she lost a kidney a few years back and now she was taking care of him. They obviously loved each other very much.
I carry with me, every single day in my pocket, a very special quartz crystal that has been with me since my own bout with cancer. Whenever I need some strength I hold this crystal and it has been rubbed smooth by the zillions of hours of holding it, caressing it and being lifted up by the healing vibration of this special stone. Just this very day I lent it to my co-worker Mary, whose stepdaughter, age twenty two, had suddenly died a terrible death just days before. Obviously distraught and near tears I handed it to her to help her get through the day. And as always this incredible little object did its’ job by lifting her up enough to get through this sad day.
She had just returned it to me minutes before my conversation with John. As I stood there and talked with him about the various struggles of treatment, my hand was in my pocket rolling the quartz in my fingers when I heard a voice say, give him the crystal. I had noticed a fine ring on John’s finger and asked him about it.
He went on to explain that he was a jewelry maker. Or was a jewelry maker, having had to give it up when he started getting sick, even returning deposits and works in progress as his illness grew greater and he grew weaker. His eyes shone as he described the joy of his life long passion of creating unique pieces and being able to make a fine living doing what was most dear to him. I selfishly consider not giving it to him to keep but only touching him with it, knowing that even the slightest contact with my beloved crystal had healing qualities. Then speaks the voice again, a bit louder than before, give him the crystal.
I say, John, may I give you something? He looks at me with wide eyes, not being able to understand what his Pancake Man waitress could possibly have to give him. I pull the rock out of my pocket and place it in his hand, his eyes closed as he felt the current rush through him and he then clasps both of my hands inside his own and starts to cry. I look deep into his eyes, still holding hands with the crystal and I say, John there is life after chemo. You are going to be just fine. I will pray for your healing and recovery and just know that there is someone out here in the world who understands what you are going through.
As I stand there and witness this man and woman, both now in tears and stunned by this gift, I hear the voice again and it says, John is going to die. They are both talking to me about how wonderful this crystal is and how John is going to get his jewelry making tools out and turn my wonderful stone into a necklace so it can be near to his heart and his hated chemo port. As he pulls his baggy sweater over to show me his port, my hand instinctively goes to where mine used to be, and we look at one another and wordlessly unite in the nightmare of treatment.
In spite of the fact that John is going to die, I continue to encourage him and lift him up with comforting words, we hug several times right there in the middle of station E in the Pancake Man, with my co-workers looking on. By now they are used to me hugging my customers, not all of them, only the ones this connection happens with. This occurs every couple of days, that God sends people to me, then He tells me what to do.
We exchange email addresses, we say our goodbyes, I disappear into the kitchen giving them a chance to make their slow exit out the door. I am so sad that John might not make it. I say to God in the car as I’m driving home, tears flowing down my face, God does John have to die? Maybe since you had me give him the crystal, maybe he will live? I am at a stop light and as I look up at the car in front of me, I see its’ license plate which says: His-Wil.
And I know God is telling me that His will be done. I am so upset, but also gratified that today, along with countless meaningless interactions with my customers, there is one who walked away from me today that is being comforted by our father-creator, whose perfect will must be accomplished whether or not we understand, whether or not we agree with it.