When the phone call finally came, the one we've been waiting three agonizing days for, the one with the results of the further testing on my lymph node and tonsil, I wanted to run away.
My husband answered the phone in the next room, and I could tell by his tone that it was the doctor. Reality tilted dramatically, threatening to slide me off the edge and into the abyss.
"Hon, you need to come here and pick up the phone," he said, carefully. My Mom and Greta were playing a board game in the kitchen. We've been using a lot of careful tones around the kids these days.
I don't want to, I don't want to, I don't want to, I repeated childishly to myself, as I robotically put one foot in front of the other, until the phone was in my hand.
My husband's face said it all, so as I slowly lifted the receiver to my ear I wasn't surprised to hear "...cancer.. further testing... hopefully isolated...need to get you an oncologist quickly... come to my office Monday"
I started to shake, ever so slightly, and felt a well of panic rise up in my chest. The doctor was still talking "....prognosis likely good.... maybe radiation or chemotherapy..... next steps will be up to the oncologist" I nodded my head, as if he could see me. As if I could even begin to absorb these terribly unfamiliar words poking their way into my life.
I set the phone down, slowly made my way upstairs to the bedroom, and perched stiffly on the edge of my bed. I was waiting for the panic bubble to burst, for a tidal wave of emotion to rip me apart.
Instead, I saw color. Beautiful explosions of color as the late afternoon sun streamed through our windows and illuminated the blanket on our bed. I ran my hands across our comforter; it's so soft, I thought. I heard Greta's laughter as she played with my Mom, heard my dog's contented sigh as she stretched her head into a patch of sunlight.
Time slowed to a crawl; a second seemed to take a minute. I had all the time in the world to take it all in.
So this is what it's like, I thought, to actually be in a moment. Just one moment. It's beautiful.
I don't know what this next chapter of my life will be like. I'm sure it will be scary and sad, at times. I've been living so long in fear of this exact thing happening to me that I'm expecting scary and sad. Now that it's here, though, I can see the beauty and simplicity found in fear, too. And freedom. The scary thing is here and I see beauty all around me. I feel hopeful. I'm really, really scared, but that's not the whole picture.
Perhaps I'm meant to go through this, because it will set me free from a lifetime of fear. But, like with all obstacles in life, in order to be set free, I have to get through to the other side, first.
And I'm going to need a lot of help. Physical, mental and spiritual help. I have to surrender to cancer like I did to alcoholism; it's bigger than me, and I can't do it alone.
I am praying to stay grateful for the beauty tucked away in the in-between spaces, the tiny moments that sparkle and shine even in the face of fear.
I am praying to maintain a sense of wonder and awe, instead of fear, of modern medicine and technology.
I am praying that I will be able to get out of my own way, keep my heart and mind open to the things I'm meant to learn, the ways I'm meant to grow, the people I'm meant to meet. Every time I go through something difficult - and this ranks up there as one of the hardest - I am introduced to incredible people filled with spirit and hope. Or I find out that someone I've known all along is full of spirit and hope and I just never knew it until I needed his/her help. That is already happening.
If I can keep faith and not lose myself to fear, I know I will grow in ways I can't possibly imagine.
But right now, as I start out on this next journey, I'm mostly scared, and pulling my family and friends in tight around me.
Your prayers and thoughts are needed, and received with a very grateful heart.