Reflections on a life
Before I knew
Not so bad, I can eat ice cream and cookies with abandon.
As my thoughts started to spin again, I worried:
How would my children take the news?
Would they get worried?
I’m sure they would.
How can I shelter them from the pain?
Can I control my eagerness to share it, to dilute it and thereby make my own worries less?
From there, my thoughts turned to mortality.
How do I want to be remembered?
What nuggets of wisdom can I leave behind that will make my life lived worthwhile?
Is there anything of value for me to extract from my life?
Has my life contributed in some small way to the improvement of humankind?
I sure want to think so.
The fear that my life has no meaning is greater than the prospect of needles, the poisons of chemotherapy.
But tonight, still not knowing, I fight to chase these thoughts away,
savoring a chocolate bar, a sweet fig, a torn piece of thick homemade bread.
My sinking spirits don’t care anymore, drowned by gluttony.
The Day I Find Out
Awake at dawn with eyes stilled shut, in bed, while pieces of my day come into view.
Oh, no: Today’s follow-up test that will determine my future.
While I wait for my name to be called for my screening test, I try to act normal. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of women go through this procedure daily. Why should I be worried? Chills of excitement, a nervous energy, curse through my blood. I feel tense and scared. The nervousness won’t go away.
I’m worried because of all the unknown.
Do I have breast cancer? What kind?
What is the treatment? Where will I go for it? Where will I live?
How do I keep my cool when I tell my sons? How do I make my experience a life lesson for them?
Crying won’t be helpful.
I pull the green hospital gown closer, sitting with all the women who just underwent their own tests. I think about how the technician had rolled the ultrasound device over my right breast, the gel allowing it to move smoothly over what I knew was a lump. The area was sensitive but maybe because of my touching and probing after I learned that a spot had been found. I had seen the dark spot from the corner of my eye during last week’s mammogram. I know something is there.
Stay cool. Read your novel. Don’t worry. I read the same sentence again and again.
Finally, my name is called and I follow quickly.
The door closes and I take a deep breath to steel my stomach.
A cyst or fibrous tissue but no threat to me.
Relief. I walked out with a smile when I had been so sure I would be among the many women who are forced to focused on fighting the deadly disease.
The sun was brighter, the air crisper when I walked outside. My husband pulled the car up, I got in, smiled and kissed him, thankful to be alive.