June 9, 2014

Waiting

Our sixth anniversary, and I love this man more than the day I told him if he didn't propose to me I would do it first.
A few weeks ago, M and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. We flew to Santa Barbara for a friend's wedding, and romanced and danced and laughed and had so much fun I can't imagine cramming it into a single blog post. But I'm not writing about that today.

Celebrating love in a corner of paradise
Well, I am. Tangentially, anyway.

This past weekend, I went to Blog U- a crazy awesomesauce smorgasbord of networking, education, parties, constant mutual appreciation, and more alcohol than your average frat party. But I'm not writing about that today.

Getting to know some of my favorite bloggers
Or maybe only a little.

And when the whole thing was over, I went to an amazing lunch with my sister, who's friend's car was broken into and robbed of all my luggage- all my nice jewelry (anniversary presents, birthday presents, Christmas presents...), the shoes I wore on my wedding day, half my bras... But I'm not really writing about that today either.

Oh wedding Fluvogs... how I'll miss you.
This weekend was an insane high followed by an insane low, and that's what the wonderful people sending me photos they'd snapped of the jewelry that might appear in a Baltimore pawn shop kept saying.

Because yes, it feels very much like we don't do the middle in our family. Me and M, we only do highs and lows. We only do blacks and whites. We have no shades of grey.

At least, not usually.

The truth is, I thought that Blog U was my high after the awful low. For me, the terrible low was Wednesday through Friday, so of COURSE the weekend would be amazing, wouldn't it?

On Wednesday, as those of you who check in on me so often on Facebook know, M had his every-six-monthly MRI.

For the last seven years, we've been watching the pictures of M's brain change. Cloudy areas becoming clearer, contrasting areas shrinking, bright white shapes in a sea of gray fading away to a quietly benign nothing. At first the MRIs were every eight weeks, then every three months, and now- only twice a year.

And so on Wednesday we had our summer scan. And as M's doctor, who has only been with us for three of these, began describing the scans, we heard something we had never heard before.

Such a useless word, she used. "Something."

"Something" that probably meant "probably nothing." "Something" that meant "who the fuck knows what this means but it's there."

"Something" small enough that we weren't talking about getting back on chemo, we were talking about looking at the big picture in a new way.

M and I have talked many times about "when." This doctor, she likes "when." She thinks it's realistic. She says "when" the tumors start to grow again, not like it's some kind of death sentence, but as though it's an inevitability. And I respect that. Inevitable doesn't mean it's coming at you like a freight train, it means that someday, it WILL happen. The way that someday, you WILL get food poisoning. Or you WILL get trapped in the rain with no umbrella. Or you WILL put your foot in your mouth in front of somebody you respect and admire.

And I guess whenever we talked about "when," we assumed it would be nice and clear cut. "Oh look at that, the cancer is growing again. Time to get you back into radiation."

But it turns out this was utterly naive.

"When" means something different every day.

The doctor told us that, frankly, brain surgery is a whole different world now than it was seven years ago. Seven years ago, when M's brain surgeon decided not to remove his tumors, because it was just too dangerous.

"Now they've made these huge advances in mapping, and the techniques for brain surgery have completely changed," she said. "And so on Friday morning I'll be talking to the hospital tumor board about returning to surgery, to remove those tumors."

"Tumors beget tumors," she said. "And I'd like to get their opinion on whether or not it's time to go in and get them out."

So I stopped eating, at least when I was alone, and as much as I lied to my husband and to Grandma and to my parents, I worried.

Of course I fucking worried. And I deserve to worry. I am a human being, and it doesn't matter if it's my job to be somebody's emotional rock. My whole family's emotional rock. It doesn't matter if I know intellectually that this meant nothing and that there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it for days anyway. Of course I worried.

So I stood in the airport at the gate, calling and calling and calling M's doctor's office, asking if the tumor board had made a decision. Because I had to make a decision. If M was having brain surgery, I wasn't boarding that plane. I was turning around and going home to lock it down and take care of things until everything was better again.

And finally, the doctor's office called me back. "The tumor board agrees this is probably nothing, so we're going to hold off on surgery. Instead we're going to get him back for an MRI in eight weeks. Does that sound good?"

No, it does not sound good. What sounds good is somebody dropping confetti from the ceiling and a man with a giant check coming out and announcing that I've been victim to some sort of prank and now they're going to reimburse us the cost of the MRI, my plane ticket, the food I didn't eat, and half a million for my mental anguish. THAT sounds good.

But this didn't sound exactly bad, either. What it sounded like to me was... we wait.

Because that's exactly what it means. It means we're back to waiting.

And the reality is we're not "back to waiting," because we never STOPPED waiting. We just forgot we were doing it for a while. We got so used to checking in with our friends at the hospital, our neurooncology team, and asking about their kids and joking about their pregnancies and reminiscing about old times... that was our routine.

Not actually waiting for another shoe to drop. We were so happy and confident and comfortable that we forgot that's what we were supposed to be doing all along.

So I got on the plane and I went to Blog U, and I drank more than I have in the past five years, because I needed to fucking celebrate, damn it.

"He's going to be just fine."
I deserved to celebrate.

M was just fine, thank you very much, and I could stop worrying.

Only I can't, because that's how it goes. When you're waiting, you can't stop worrying. Waiting is always the worst part. Waiting lets all the fears grow, lets them take over if you give them the space.

And so at Blog U, I reminded myself what it's like to wait. REALLY wait. I read an excerpt from my book at an open mic, about waiting. And when I got to the end, I felt myself tearing up.

Not because, as so many people came up to me and asked, worried whether he would make it.

I cried because I needed to hear the words I spoke then, seven years ago, and I needed to say them to myself.

"He's going to be just fine."

We decided to get married, to have kids, because you can't live if you're just waiting. A holding pattern isn't a life.

We could all die at any minute. A plane could crash, a car could spin out of control, a meteor could fall from the sky. Anytime, any one of us, anywhere, could have an aneurysm and collapse on the street.

We are all living on borrowed time, every minute of every day.

So waiting? It changes nothing.

If somebody told me when I fell in love with M that he would die in five years, I wouldn't have walked away. If somebody told me on our wedding day that we'd have seven years of pure bliss, and then he'd be shot in a mugging gone wrong, I wouldn't have taken off my ring. If somebody told me when we were thinking about getting pregnant that our children would lose their father before they could reach elementary school...

Yes, I would cry my fucking eyes out.

But I wouldn't have changed my mind.

Six years, eight months, one week, two days ago
So I hope M will excuse me if over the next months and maybe years I get a little more misty eyed when I snap a few more photos than in months previous. I hope my friends will excuse me if I prioritize date nights a little higher than girls nights. I hope my family will excuse me if I cry a little more for absolutely no reason.

Nothing has changed.

It was just really easy to forget that when waiting was so easy.

Everything with us is highs and lows. Waiting- that's a low. But celebrating six years of marriage- and exactly one month after his doctor decided we needed to talk about "something," seven years of survival. Those are highs. Those are enormous highs.

The way he nuzzles my neck or teases me for screaming when he walks through door and says, "Hello," the way he dances like a maniac through the night... those are highs.

Those are the same highs we've had every day for six years, eleven months, and four days.

We just forgot that in those six years, eleven months, and four days there was all this waiting. All this exhausting awareness of the unknown. It's been there all along.

Nothing has changed.

He's going to be just fine.

28 comments:

  1. I have no words to add to the perfect words you shared from your heart. But I'm sending you and M some extra love today.

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  2. (trying again to respond!) Oh, lady. It was so good to see you this weekend. I'm rooting for you. xo

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    1. It was good to see you too! I wish we'd had more of a chance to hang out!

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  3. This is just gorgeous. As you are!

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  4. Love this! Beautiful and M is going to be just fine.

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  5. Oh Lea... oh my heart!!! You are such an incredible inspiration and I am praying PRAYING M and YOU will be okay. You just stole my heart with your words. I'm in deep, with you now. Please please keep us posted.

    Ps: I'm so glad you drank and embraced the weekend and shared and laughed and cried and connected and and and... with all that was stirring in your heart. YOU are full of strength you don't even know about yet. YOU can let go, be weak, cry your freaking EYES out, love with every single FIBER of your being, hope against ALL HOPE, and crash and burn and rise again... because of love.

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    1. You're making me cry! You're so kind! I'll be sure to keep updating with news, if there is any, when there is any, <3

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  6. And we will wait with you my beautiful new friend!!!!! Xoxo....I can't believe someone stole all your shit??!! People just suck!!!!

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    1. Right?!? Who DOES that?! I hope somebody punches that thief in the nuts!

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  7. We didn't get to meet at BlogU but I did get to hear you read about Mike. And I wondered.

    I'm sorry you had all of your stuff stolen. I'm sorry you are back to the "awareness of waiting." My hope and prayer for you and your family is that He Is Going To Be Just Fine. Just like you say. Just like you want.

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    1. Thank you. I wanted to meet everyone! But there wasn't enough time! I'm glad to meet you now. :)

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  9. This is the most powerful thing I have read in a long time. You express "the waiting" so perfectly for those of us who have been there. I pray for health, for strength, for patience, and most of all for peace for you and M today and every day going forward. Hugs!

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  10. You're damn right, new is! I can't wait to read your book. That excerpt was amazing.

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    1. Thank you so much. I'll make sure you're among the first to know when it's coming. :)

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  11. Sorry it's been so long, but well said here, baby. Living life is where it's at, waiting be damned. I have faith that your man will be just fine and when you're still "waiting" as a couple of 89 year olds, we'll all laugh with you.

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    1. I'll be looking forward to those laughs. :)

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  12. Well said. VERY well said. Sending light and love to you and M.

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  13. Okay so I think I maybe can finally come back and comment without blurring my screen into oblivion. I am so happy that you have one another. I hate cancer with a fiery passion, but I love the way you and your husband love one another. It's a really bright spot in this chaotic show called life.

    <3

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    1. Thank you. Cancer sucks. It sucks so much. Don't worry about that blurry screen thing- I think it's some sort of bug going around. I seem to have it too. ;)

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  14. Sending soooooo many good vibes/thoughts your way for tomorrow. oxox

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