I should have known better. Monica favored her mother, who arrived clutching a Bible. Her father was the kind of dour man I immediately associated with the kind of Christians who had no sense of humor.
I wondered if they were Catholic. If so, I could set Father Will on them. Or even, I thought wryly, Sarael.
They walked into the area outside the room. “Who’s that?” her father asked of the nurse.
“A friend of hers.”
“Oh, really?” He turned to face me. “One of the bimbos she works with, no doubt.”
I decided to try for some, as Christians say, burning coals and offered my hand. “Jane Rudi. I’m a friend of Monica’s.”
He refused to take it while his wife, who seemed to be almost trembling, moved to talk to the doctors.
“No doubt one of the people who influenced her to refuse treatment.”
I shook my head. “I’ve been trying to get her to look after herself better. She made her choices.”
“Pheh. Without consulting anyone important.” From the way he said important, he didn’t include me in that.
“You must know how stubborn she is.”
That actually caused him to soften. “Stubborn. Never willing to accept the natural order of things.”
I hoped nobody told this man I was a lesbian. “Natural order?”
“That she was made a woman, and woman is subservient to man.” His eyes flashed. “I’m sure you…” He gave me an elevator stare, and it wasn’t a nice one. “…are just as unnatural.”
Oh, if he only knew. “I only know her wishes, and that she didn’t want to spend weeks in a hospital bed.”
“If that’s God’s will. Of course, if she’d…”
He was about to say that if Monica had done as she was told, whatever she was told, she would not be sick. I decided I couldn’t stand this conversation any more. “Excuse me. I need to…”
And I fled to the one place safe from him – the nearest ladies room. I splashed water on my face, not caring that it would ruin my makeup.
“Gods, what a…”
A nurse had followed me inside. “Asshole?”
“Patriarchal piece of…” I tailed off. “Guy thinks his daughter has cancer because she wouldn’t submit to him in all ways.”
“Oh. One of those. Is he prescribing prayer?”
“No, he wants to keep her alive as long as possible when she wants no heroic measures.”
“That’s almost worse.” The woman offered me a hug.
She was a total stranger.
I took it anyway.