The best view in Santa Rosa, it is said, is from Paradise Ridge Winery. The tasting room looks westward toward the semi-organized suburban sprawl where we live and thrive and call home. There is, however, another view from just a tiny bit down the mountain from the winery.
On Round Barn Circle.
A slightly different view.
Sutter Oncology Clinic has the same view, just not as high on the mountain. And the people who get to see it truly appreciate the vista. Sutter Oncology Clinic is the place where people go to receive a drip, drip, drip that will hopefully cure their cancer.
I have had the opportunity to savor the panoramic splendor of Santa Rosa, California from the glassed-in aerie of this clinic.
It’s a beautiful view. It’s a beautiful city.
We, from here, can see the city sprawled out before us. We can also see the clouds and storms from the Pacific bringing us fog, drizzle, rain.
Today as I waited, patiently and hopefully, for the juice to enter my veins for my specific illness I savored the view of this city of Santa Rosa. From up here, as the medicine seeps into my veins, I have a sense of distance from the ant farm that is the modern American city. There is another community, another city, brought together because we are in the same leaky rowboat, of cancer patients who see this panorama – this beautiful city of Santa Rosa – while accepting the latest and hopefully most effective and propitious drug.
Drip, drip drip.
An impromptu community.
I have been coming here since June for my particular problem and I have to say that I have never been more welcomed, befriended, and accepted as I have been every time I show up for my chemotherapy.
And I think it might be the view.
Today I walked in and two of the nurses greeted me by my first name and asked if the restaurant where I worked, The Farmhouse, was busy. I said yes, indeed, we were. Booked until Thanksgiving. They nodded and efficiently, elegantly, found a proper vein for the drip, drip, drip, that I would be receiving for the next seven hours.
In those seven hours I would learn that I am, indeed, the luckiest guy on the planet. I do have a bit of cancer that’s circulating, perambulating, goofing off in my bladder. This little drip, drip, drip, of chemotherapy that I receive will address and resolve that problem.
I wish it were so simple for the people in the chairs surrounding me. I’m here for seven hours and I am one of the few without a port. A port is a plastic junction where the chemotherapy is injected. It is a semi-permanent appliance where cheerful and smiling nurses inject merciless, hopefully effective, drugs for deadly and mysterious ailments.
A beautiful young lady sat next to me and had her elixir administered through such a plastic port. This thirty-year-old woman endured visits from in-laws and friends. Obviously in pain, she perked up whenever someone visited. She was the perfect hostess in English and Spanish as the visitors arrived and left.
Until her children arrived.
The boys, aged nine and eleven, spoke perfect English to the nurses and myself when I said “Hey” but they spoke in Spanish to their mother and their aunt who had accompanied them. Their mother had been on her medication for about two hours before they arrived. I could tell by her breathing that it was not a comfortable situation. But when her boys appeared she became a vibrant and caring mother. She transcended the side effects of whatever drug, whatever poison, for whatever malady was in her system and she became a mama. In Spanish the youngest son said, “My baseball game is at 10 o’clock on Saturday.”
Auntie raised a finger and said in Spanish to her sobrino, “There are more important things right now.”
The young man fought back tears and said, “You are right.”
This stuff that they are pouring into my veins is truly miraculous. Whether or not it snuffs out what is growing wildly within me really doesn’t matter. Today, because I had to be here in this place, at this time, I watched a boy become a man.
That is the best view in Santa Rosa.
Because of the people who are in it.
Rob Loughran usually writes about sillier stuff. His latest novel Beautiful Lies is available at Pages On the Green bookstore in Windsor, CA