Yesterday starts out like any other.
I drop the kids at school, drop Cass to daycare, I kiss them all goodbye. I manage to sneak in a quiet coffee and to-do list session before taking a seat in the doctor’s office to get my latest test results. Nothing too serious, nothing too surprising, just the usual pesky thyroid issues and a bit of low iron. All good.
Then, just as we are wrapping things up, I say “Oh, it’s probably nothing, but I just noticed a couple of days ago I have this sore spot on my right breast.”
The doctor asks me where. I point to it. He feels it and compares it to my right one. Then he says the words that suddenly pull everything into a different focus, like one of those sequences in the movie where the protagonist is standing still but the background goes all warped: “I can feel a lump there.”
Seeing the look on my face, he tells me not to panic, the fact it is tender is actually a good sign, he prints out an ultrasound request, smiles and says not to worry as it won’t help anyway. I smile. I walk out. I am numb. I shouldn’t worry. He’s right. Chill out. It’s nothing. No point in stressing.
I get in the car. I call and book the ultrasound: 4pm this afternoon. Good. All sorted. I sit in the car for a few minutes just staring. I snap out of it and call my hubby. “The doctor found a lump.”
I hang up and cry.
My hubby comes home. We talk, hold hands and watch Kill Bill 2.
I try not to let my mind go there but at some point, the dam wall bursts. I know, I mean really KNOW what it is to lose your mother as a child and I would never wish it on anybody, let alone my own babies. My mum was 33 when she died…and I am now 33.
I berate myself for being so melodramatic. It’s probably nothing, I’m probably putting myself through the emotional ringer for absolutely no reason. I’m going to feel stupid when they tell me it’s nothing. But somewhere in there is that nagging thought, “What if this is bad?”
I go for the ultrasound. The woman doing it reminds me of the butch boarding-house supervisor at my old school, except this woman seems friendly. One would hope so. She is about to know my boobs more intimately than I know them myself.
She pours the (thankfully warm) lube all over them and does her thing. It feels like my boobs are mouse pads and her ultrasound-thingy is the mouse, clicking its way through cyberspace. I don’t look at the screen.
She tells me that from her perspective it looks good. Thank GOD. I smile. But I want to cry. To let out the relief. It ain’t final, I know that, but already her confidence makes me breathe easier. It’s gonna be okay.
I pick the kids up from school. After the upset of even glimpsing for a moment the mere possibility of a threat to the family, I somehow expect them to be on the same page. To leap into the car, cover me in kisses with an orchestral soundtrack that punctuates perfectly the emotion of a family that’s realised how lucky they are just to be together. Instead the older two immediately start fighting and littlest starts screaming because he wants to play the X-Box. We don’t have an X-Box. He’s just seen one at the library.
I look at hubby. He looks at me. We laugh.
So it looks like it’s gonna be all good. Thank high heavens. I can go back to normal now. Only…I can’t.
Being confronted by the possibility of life being cut short, even for such a small space of time, but for the time that it was it felt such a REAL possibility, has changed me.
To put this in context, the past couple of months I have spent feeling quite overwhelmed by options. A great problem to have, granted, but one that has left me feeling quite dizzy and anxious and uncertain about the best path of action to take. What kind of life do we want as a family? Where should I be for my career? How do we want to spend our time?
Yesterday, even for a moment, I am granted what I see at the time as a traumatising experience, yet later see is an incredible possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain some hugely-needed perspective.
Yesterday, I ask myself, honestly, if this IS it…if the news IS bad…if there is a possibility that I only have a short time left here, what would I do?
And with that, I have instant clarity.
What needs to be focused on:
Family. That the family is the most important thing – not just our immediate little five-some, but ALL of our family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents, even our friends who I consider part of this group…I would focus on spending fantastic time with these people. NO DOUBT. This is possibly not that mind-blowing in its revelation, in that I’ve always known that family is the most important thing, but my point is that even fostering the kids’ relationships with their extended family is numero uno, above career, above anything, really.
Place. I instantly know that I want to live somewhere that creatively inspires me and has a real sense of community. I think this criteria could be filled by any number of places, but I do know that I need to feel that connection to a place. A kind of magic, if you will. I want to love where I live. And if time is limited, I would move there now.
Writing. I am actually surprised that this comes up – part of me thought that perhaps if I only had a short time left I would forget about the career stuff altogether and just hide myself away in a cave with my babies (which, don’t get me wrong, does sound appealing) but the fact that writing one project in particular comes up shows me that deep down, I really do feel like creating is that important. Important enough to be prioritised even if life was cut short. One of the things that overwhelms me sometimes is how MANY ridiculous big projects I have on the back burner. Will I ever get them off that thing and fire up the oven and get them in there? Well finally when I think, “what if there is not a whole lifetime to get it all done?”, I know exactly what I want to focus on. Just one project. A writing project.
Clarity through crisis.
Oh palm-slap. I really am Pollyanna.