It is 12:56. And I am waiting to find out the results of my latest biopsy. This is such a familiar feeling. Unfortunately. What is it like out to find out if your future will be scrambled? At this point, I have had so many biopsies that haven’t been actual cancer (though a number have yielded results dangerous enough to require surgery and I am permanently in a high risk zone) that I have developed certain coping skills that get me through the waiting periods and the painful tests without too much emotional scarring. I have cultivated a certain pleasant blankness that includes focusing on the moment I’m living in and doing whatever little task I have at hand, and cutting myself off from making long range plans. It is only sometimes, at unexpected moments, when the darkness completely eclipses the light and I start to sob and shake so hard that I don’t even know what I’m afraid of—is it the helplessness? is it the pain? Is it death? Or is it being tortured to death? I sob and my poor husband stands by, thinking he’s not being helpful when really, he is. By not running away, by witnessing my sadness, he most definitely is. And then, I stop, and we watch Downton Abbey, and try to figure out if Lady Mary is enigmatic or just kind of a bitch.
No biopsy will ever be as bad as the first one—until I get the one, which I no doubt will, which will let me know that the game is up and cancer is here. The first biopsy was the worst because my children were young. I could not get over the terror that I was about to betray them by dying. I felt myself not to be an individual so much as a figurehead. I was Mother. And I felt that I could not let them be un-Mothered. They needed to trust that I would be, at very least, alive. I remember so clearly feeling as if I were behind glass, watching the rest of the world go through its busy motions. Sounds felt muffled. Even my beloved husband could not reach me. Other people were alive and I was somewhere between alive and dead, in a very special zone that normal people didn’t belong to and should never see.
It is 2:00 now. The results are supposed to be here, I’m supposed to get a call. I’ve been calm. I’ve been busy. I made phone calls and emails. But now, the sky feels heavy, as if it’s crushing down on me with extra gravity. Ring, phone. Just tell me. Just tell me what my future is going to be. I’ve waited long enough. Just tell me now.
Writing Prompt: How have you learned to cope with potentially scary news?