It was 3 months ago when I wrapped myself in thin pastel fabric. I laid down on a sterile table topped by a flat mattress covered in a crisp white sheet. The lights in the room were dimmed. My stomach was jittery and unsettled. I could feel my heart beating. I stared up at the spongy looking ceiling tiles and tried to count the dimples in each square. I looked around at the flat beige walls and considered the scuff marks near the door. The flashing login screen on the computer next to me gave my anxiety a consistent, controlled rhythm.
A knock on the door jolted me into a smile and a handshake.The technician had arrived with her warm gel, her ultrasound wand of magic and a neutral, polite face that was necessary for her profession. I had been through a lot, physically and emotionally, since I got a little bit of cancer. This one year ultrasound checkup was where they would tell me it had all been worth it.
Instead, they told me they found something.
Nothing was certain. It could be surgical “debris” or it could be the first sign that the cancer was determined to kill me. A multitude of experts bantered about terms such as extensive scar tissue and significant swelling and probable cyst and suspicious immobile nodule. They all offered their opinions. We decided I would come back in 3 months.
3 months later, on a Friday morning, I laid down on the very same table. A quiet calm dominated the room, but chaos monopolized the inside of my head. I had months of erratic thinking swirling in my brain. The unlimited freedom, possibility and privileged gift of life was drowned out by frightening uncertainty and the weight of potential impending mortality. If the cancer was growing again so quickly, it would, most likely, be very difficult to stop it from taking over.
It was a Friday morning when they told me they couldn’t find that suspicious nodule. In another 3 months I would have to come back and lay down on that table again. But for now, they couldn’t find any cancer. For now, I could start to breathe again. For now, I allowed myself to think I might be alive to see my son graduate from high school.
I stopped at the grocery store on my way home that Friday morning. Grade school children were fighting with each other in the checkout line in front of me. They pointed to the politicians on the covers of the magazines.
“That one is a liar and is stupid and hates people!”
“No, THAT one is the liar and is even stupider and KILLED people!”
As the kids escalated their argument, their mother turned to me. She shook her head and sighed out of frustration.
“Can you imagine ANYTHING worse than living in a world where either of those two people are president of our country?” she complained to me.
I could imagine something worse. I’d been imagining it for the last 3 months.
Not living in this mostly good, crazy, beautiful, messed up world.
That would be worse.