Over the last week, the prospect of sitting down and writing a blog update exhausted me. I know I threw out a grenade last week - announcing my mom's surgery - and I left that there to sizzle and stir up concern. Sorry.
So, a quick update on that: she is home recovering. She came out of it, and two hours post-op she was playing (and winning) Words with Friends on her Kindle.
A huge reason I couldn't come back to this blog and simply say that, is that I was ashamed. I should have been elated about my mother coming through, I should have giggled about her scar and appeared upbeat, but I was too far gone, too low, too consumed with fear and hopelessness about her and more selfishly, about myself.
When someone as close to me has what I have, in the advanced form, how do I separate myself from that? How do I tell myself I exist in a different sphere while at the same time everyone is asking me to be there, live it, watch it happen? How do I tell myself I am different? Why do I even deserve to be different?
How low I fell into a hopeless funk. I even went back to my first few posts, from April/May, and my own words seemed foreign to me, written by someone else. I turned them over in my mind, and with a lot of ugliness I thought, "How naive. Who is that person?"
I didn't foresee that too many people would be expecting too many things of me, and that in the face of these people asking me for support, I could not deliver. I'm ashamed to say that I shut down. And because I could not give anything to those who have given so much to me, this failure plummeted me further and further down into a hole.
And I started wondering - and this was not some hypothetical or rhetorical or whimsical or comical wondering - I seriously wondered if life would ever be okay again. If I would ever be free of worry, free of sorrow, free of pain.
God, how depressing, I know. This is not how I wanted to come off on this blog - I wanted to be strong and inspiring and positive.
But it's not all depressing, I swear.
This is because the other night, there was just the faintest crack, the faintest opening.
I met a woman who went through treatment two years ago. My best friend, in her wedding dress, pushed the two of us together and said, "Nikki, this is who I told you about."
This woman, after a small exchange of logistics and diagnoses, said, very plainly: "No one tells you how long this road is. No one tells you. But you'll come out the other side. Someone told me that, and now I'm telling you that."
Then this woman, this stranger, gripped my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and repeated, "You will come out the other side."
And I just stared at her, still a bit numbed from whatever scrim of sorrow still lay over me.
But slowly, I nodded. She was so sure of herself without being preachy, and I couldn't help but believe her.
Her taking me by the shoulders like that caused me to have a flashback. I remembered someone doing something similar to me.
After my first mammogram, which came after finding the stupid fucking lump on my boob, I had my first biopsy. It was my 31st birthday, and I was crying. I cried as he plunged the long needle into the side of me, and I cried as they bandaged me up.
The nurses and doctors had stopped assuring me, at this point, that it was "probably nothing," and "You're so young, it's likely just a cyst." I spent a lot of time in a heated pink robe waiting and filling out the same information. Please enter any family history of cancer. One sheet had only three lines. I wrote in tiny lettering, and then down the side of the paper.
At that point, I was still not used to doors softly being opened and shut, nurse practitioners and ultra sound techs and radiologists smiling meekly at me. I smiled back as I thought of dying; I thought of how cruel this world is sometimes. I thought of days on the beach when I had not a care in the world.
Afterwards, the radiologist, an older man who'd been docile and emotionless throughout the biopsy procedure, came in to give me his card and send me on my way, adding that the results wouldn't be in for another 3-5 days. I was silent and still crying, I could only nod.
Then, suddently, he took me by the shoulders, just like that woman took me by the shoulders, and looked me in my eyes. He said, with ridiculous conviction, unequivocal conviction: "Whatever happens here, whatever the results - you'll be okay. You are going to be okay."
I don't know how he knows, I don't know how that woman knows, and ultimately, I don't know how I know, but for fuck's sake, they're right and I have to believe that. It'll be okay.