|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.|
|Celebrating love in a corner of paradise|
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|
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.|
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."|
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|
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.