I spent some time in the last couple of weeks interacting with really sick people in the hospital and elsewhere.
(Why is irrelevant. I'm fine. I can tackle twice my weight in wildcats.)
Reaction to people who are sick of vary. Sympathy. Empathy. (To the extent that person has empathy.) Indifference. Helplessness. The sad knowledge that the patient has been hurled into the big medical monster and has little control. A big dose of "There but for the grace of God …)
The real lesson is that these are just sick people. Our bodies do not have a warranty. Nor do they have an expiration date. But they are people.
I see a lady who is obviously undergoing chemotherapy. She knows it's obvious. The head scarf is not to hide the fact – is to give her a scrape of dignity. When a person is on extra oxygen, that just means they need extra oxygen, so thank God they live in a time when it’s available. It's a problem, but not a big deal. I remember when my mom first went out with an oxygen tank. She didn’t want to go out. The oxygen tank would draw attention. But she went anyway, to Barnes and Noble. Nobody seemed to notice. She was amazed.
They're just people.
Why do we fear disease so much? Very few things are contagious between humans, absent sharing blood products. Cancer absolutely is not catching. Heart disease? Nope. Stroke? Huh-uh. Even the great big bugaboo of contagion, AIDS, is only feebly contagious. Father Mychal Judge, "The Saint of 9-11," had an AIDS ministry. He said that “his people” were amazed when he touched them because they had been treated so much differently, even by their families.
I saw a guy last week, a "working man," about my age. He probably was near the end of heavy radiation. He had a radiation burn on his neck and nowhere else. He was remarkably unselfconscious about it. The burn was not covered with a bandage -- in fact he had no head covering other than his John Deere cap. He was going through a lot, but he was comporting himself with class and with quiet dignity.
They are people.
We are all in this together.