Lila: Tomorrow Mommy gets her boobs squished by a machine.
AJ: Eww, gross!
Lila: That is not gross, AJ. Boobs are beautiful.
I got dressed, fake-confidently sauntered into my gyno's office, nodded my head during his talk of cysts and try not to worry bullshit, and then my body got up and walked my self to the elevator.
That night, as I lay next to AJ and stroked his flopsy blonde hair, watching his heavy lids finally drop with sleep, I found the dark place in my mind that I'd been trying so desperately to keep at bay. I imagined the absolute worst. I thought about dying and my beautiful children living without me, and I was so afraid.
My mammo/US had to be scheduled for the following Friday. Sweet. One whole week would be spent waiting in fear... I called to try to get an earlier appointment, but to no avail. In my mind, my conversation would go like this: "Oh, no cancellations in the next six days? That's totally fine. Really. I'll think about death until Friday then. Awesome. Nice talking with you. Seriously, it's cool. Focusing on the dark place and mortality for another week, and me not seeing my children get married or graduate from high school or perhaps, even, lose their first tooth kicks. ASS. Game on. Hell, let's push it off ten days!"
Then I lucked out and got my test moved up to Wednesday. In the interim, I surfed the Internet for things like:
- celebrities with breast cancer
- breast cancer survival rate
- cysts versus cancer
- lumps are perfectly normal and no one ever dies from them stop worrying
- hottest fall boots
Wednesday morning came, and with it appeared fun little thoughts like: This might be the last morning I dress the kids for school without knowing I have cancer; Cyst pain is supposedly exacerbated by caffeine so I'll drink 4 cups and pretend my pain is from that!; and Why do I never have a use for deodorant but, the one $%#@! day I'm told not to wear it, I'm sweating like Chris Farley?
Ang came to the hospital with me. He was so incredibly supportive and sweet, and I'll never forget it. (Thank you, my love.) But when it all comes down to it, I felt completely alone. And when I'm alone, sometimes it gets weird...
|Trying to remember to exhale...|
Not changed enough, however, to lose my love for celebratory drinks.
But there was something else I realized. It seemed so tiny and inconsequential at the time, but it's become overwhelmingly important as I've thought more about it: Last Friday, as I was putting AJ to bed ~ when I allowed my thoughts to go to the dark side ~ I worried about what my children would lose if they lost me. I couldn't stand for a second to think they'd have a life without me singing the wrong lyrics to songs. The way I constantly whisper encouraging things to them. How I ask AJ, "How much do I love you?" and he answers, "Super duper duper duper... [37 times] much" and I always say, "...and a little bit more." Would anyone else drive through our neighborhood letting them hang out in the way-way back of the car while blaring Coldplay, swerving left-to-right, and giggling their fool head off as they enjoy the crazy ride? And if someone did, would that person love it as much as I do? What about all of the dorky puns of mine they make fun of me about daily? And our great big bear hugs... The way I can immerse myself in their made-up games, only to find out we'd been playing Mommy Monster versus Cowgirl and the Dragon for two full hours? The way we love to laugh, to watch funny movies, to save baby mice from our driveway, to have Black Eyed Peas dance parties. The way I console them when they're sad. The way I love them.
There are so many times I compare myself to other moms. I second-guess my parenting constantly, never knowing if I'm "doing it right" at any given moment. But I've realized that, when it comes down to it, I know I'm a good mom to Lila and AJ. And it has absolutely nothing to do with what they wear, what I cook, party planning, professional success, multi-tasking, organizational prowess, fall boots. When I'm faced with my greatest fears, and the dark place is close enough to touch, I know that being a good mom has everything to do with who I am deep down inside. How I love them to the moon and back. What makes me me is what they need. I am so grateful.
|Pink flowers in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness.|
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson