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 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 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.


  1. Oh Liz! You brought tears to my eyes! We do forget. Even after have gone through scary medical testing - you eventually forget! I think that is part of human nature - because try as you might - you forget. I know all will be well for you - I KNOW it. So try not to worry too much and buy yourself flowers just because they make you happy!!!

  2. Love this post Liz, very well written...thank you.

    I too am having some tests - and like you, I am pretty sure things will be fine - but it is a worry nonetheless.

    We would all do well to remember that little bird on our shoulder.

    Best wishes to you for a wonderful 2010,
    Simone :)

  3. Thank you for the gentle reminder to LIVE LIFE, Liz. The gerbers are beautiful and so are you. Will keep you in my prayers that you can have a peaceful seven (if it does take that long but with a holiday it may) days with your family.

    BTW, my 15 year old bought me a book for Christmas. It is about how to stop worrying. Is there a message here?

  4. Oh, a perpetual worrier, I can only imagine what my reaction would have been in the doctor's office. Keep listening to the bird on your shoulder and LIVE! You have a throng of handsome men at your beck and call and loving friends to carry you through anything! I will be sending light your way!

  5. Liz, I hope that your test comes back with good results - and soon!

    In the meantime, I thank you for this reminder to live in the moment, to take constant steps toward realizing our dreams.

    Peace and love to you! xoxo

  6. It's always a shaky moment when we contemplate what the outcome of tests could be. We always take our health for granted until it's questioned so I love your bird on the shoulder theory. And beautiful flowers.. Gerber daisies are one of my favourite too. Good luck for your results... sending love xx

  7. I'm so impressed with how you're handling all of this Liz. You're handling it the RATIONAL way. The RIGHT way. I am such a worrier, such an hypochondriac and you've inspired me to take a step back and LIVE, even in the face of worry.

    I'm sure all will turn out fine... you are definitely in my thoughts! xo

  8. Liz, I am thinking of you and loving your daisies. Thank you for this. We all could use a little bird--and the reminder of such--more often.


Comments rock...