The times when you learn what you are made of often arise from the moments your breath is knocked from you, shaking your soul wide awake. When my mom called me last week to tell me her second mammogram showed something suspicious I had just crawled down the stairs for the third day in a row. I sat on the rug in my foyer looking out the glass door, staring across the street at the house I grew up in, a well guarded fortress where all my childhood memories live, in an instant I retrace my steps of the familiar. I watch my mom’s silhouette in the upstairs hallway holding the phone to her ear as a shaky voice on the other end begins telling me about the details of the breast biopsy that would happen the following Tuesday. It’s amazing how calm you can be when you simply have to, when inside your falling apart, cracked wide open as the raging fear rushes in.
I have thought a lot about mortality over the last week, about what it means to me and how it feels when the darkness shoots a dirty look over it’s shoulder staring you right in the eye with a sinister grin and evil laugh. Oh, I fell apart, I most certainly did. I cried and begged and pleaded and thought I couldn’t breathe at all, the terrifying “what if” factor seeping into my spinning head. Luckily I had already gotten off the phone with my mom, when just second earlier someone with my voice, in a very calm and gentle way said something to this effect, “Mom don’t cry, it’s going to be just fine, I promise. They do this all the time, they just want to be sure it’s nothing, and if it’s something we will figure it out and deal with it together.” No one prepares you for the impact of seeing your parents sick or scared or in pain, and I am instantly transported back to the Alzheimer unit of the nursing home my dad was in, begging me not to leave him there, looking back through the small square window in the locked security doors to see his tear streaked face, confused and devastated at the reality of being left behind. I was 25 and remember using the same calming voice when the reality was inside I was terrified.
You should know that my mom had the needle biopsy, did great and was cracking jokes as we left the hospital on Tuesday, Thursday came and the follow up appointment was cancelled when they called her to say that everything came back negative for cancer. For me this is perhaps a giant strip club, bright light, flashing neon sign reminder that everything can change in a split second, and life as we know it can spiral out of the crock-pot comfortable life that sometime becomes routine.
I have become complacent.
Maybe it has become too easy for me to ignore the deciduous parts of my life that are an itchy trigger when the darkness sets into my hazy bones. It’s easier day after day to push them down in an attempt to smother the things I really want, the things I miss, the person long for and the choices I am too scared to make for myself, but then I only have to look at my reflection in the mirror to find the root cause of not taking the chances that bring around those kind of changes… and just maybe that is no longer okay with me. In the end when our days are done it’s not going to be playing it safe that we remember, the stories told with a proud well worn smile will be those of unsure shaky first steps and fearless, one eye closed plunges. Contrary to one liners in romantic movies, time treasured poems, and sad country songs the unspoken can not be heard and it’s a burdensome road if not said aloud even if only to yourself.
Those moms sure know how to throw life’s lessons at you especially when you least expect it. Glad she is here to keep me on my toes. x