Monday, December 28, 2009
I'd buy more flowers
If you knew you were dying, what would you do differently?
I know. Heavy. Sorry, didn't mean to scare you.
Hopefully, I am not dying. Not just yet, anyways. But I had to have a test done today...one of those scary ones with the words "cancer" and "marker" in there.
I don't mean to be dramatic. Really.
Short version: pelvic pain leads to ultrasound; ultrasound leads to blood test to rule out cancer.
The doctor is not especially concerned. After going in with my looooong list of questions, she answered every one relatively positively: You have no history. The majority of these cysts resolve on their own. This is just a precaution.
But even if there is a 1% chance, no one wants to hear the c-word. Ever.
I have a reputation for being somewhat anxious. And pessimistic. And dramatic. Altogether, not a great combination for just about anything, much less for waiting for medical results.
After a mini-breakdown, I composed myself. Everything "looks good." And I just absolutely refuse to lose a day (or seven, since that's how long the results can take) of my life worrying. There is time for the worry, if necessary.
I "put it somewhere." Away. Although the thoughts linger, in the back of my brain, I will fill the next few days with happy busy stuff. And every time I look at my boys, I am determined not to think the worst. Because that is yet another thing you learn after you become a mother: every test takes on a whole new meaning.
A few years ago, I read the book Tuesdays With Morrie. Morrie advised that the best way to be prepared for death is to do as the Buddhists: "Everyday, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, 'Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?'" That stayed with me. I tried, really tried to live my life everyday as if that bird were there, asking me if I am ready. Is there anything I would regret, right now, at this moment, if my time came?
I started keeping a Life List then. Things I wanted to do "before I die." The items ranged from be a mother (check!) to learn to make sushi (scratched that one off a few years ago...why the heck would I go through all that trouble when I could go to the corner and pay some nice guy to make it for me?). Of course, the catch with a Life List is that for it to be really effective, you have to try and do stuff as soon as you can. You can't just write stuff down like "Go to Paris" and then not do anything to make that dream closer. Because you never know. You never know when the "before I die" part is coming.
Scares like mine right now throw things right in your face. They give you time to think, ponder, reflect. But in reality, our time can stop abruptly with no warning. We know that, rationally. But we forget. It's hard to practice.
Today I was at the grocery store, and I was struck by the prettiness of some flowers...pink and orange and red Gerber daisies. They made me smile.
I hesitated only for a moment.
I bought them. For myself.
This is something I never do, buy flowers for myself. Don't get me wrong: I buy myself plenty. Shoes and bags and lovely clothes. But flowers? They always seem so...wasteful, temporary, frivolous. But I realized, as I looked at those flowers, that I wanted them. If my days are numbered, I thought, I want those in my house. And that's when it hit me: my days are numbered. All of ours are.
I had forgotten the bird.
I looked over my shoulder. He was still there. He told me to buy the flowers.