The gown refused to close in the back and Sam knew that it didn’t really matter but it bothered him just the same. He didn’t like how vulnerable it made him feel, not being able to see it but knowing from the slight chill that he was exposed back there.
“Are you okay in there? Do you need help?”
“I’m fine, Ma,” he rasped, raising his voice as much as he trusted it, which wasn’t very high.
The door opened a crack and a worried face peeked in. “They’ll be here for you soon.” Tears welled up in her eyes but she held them in place, refusing to let them spill over.
“I’m scared,” Sam whispered.
“Of course you are.” She opened the door more and joined him in the sizeable hospital bathroom. Sam wanted to sit but there was no seat to the toilet and he was already feeling dispirited enough. She came over to him and draped an arm across his shoulders, using her other hand to brush his hair out of his face. He’d stopped cutting it when he heard his diagnosis. It would be gone soon enough. “I’m scared too. And your father. But we also know that you can do this. You’re strong enough and brave enough. You just have to take it one step at a time. And we’ll be there with you for each of them.”
Sam nodded and leaned his head over onto his mother’s shoulder. She held him close for a moment and then patted him on the back gently to rouse him. There was a quiet knock on the door.
Sam’s mother reached for the door. Sam’s father was standing on the other side. He couldn’t keep the fear out of his eyes and the color was gone from his face, but he was trying. There were a nurse, an orderly, and his doctor waiting beside the bed behind his father.
“Why don’t you come lie down while we work on getting you prepped,” the nurse coaxed.
“I’ll talk you and your folks through every step of the procedure we’ll be doing today and what our next few steps will be after that,” Dr. Smith said in a way that was meant to be reassuring but came off as condescending. “Knowing what you’re getting yourself into helps you prepare, physically and mentally for the fight ahead.”
Sam laid back as the nurse went to work poking and sticking him, inserting an IV and the monitors’ sensors. The words of the doctor washed over him. He could focus on single words here or there but they refused to make sense when strung together and rattling around in his head. He couldn’t tell whether his parents were absorbing the doctor’s monologue, but they were nodding their heads to indicate understanding.
There was a pause as they wheeled Sam out of his room. He took a few deep breaths and decided silently, “I can do this. I will beat this.”