Monday, August 8, 2011
mind body mama: death wish
For the past bunch of weeks I’ve been experiencing a weird constellation of symptoms I’d bet my lunch were perimenopause-meets-indigestion. But when a nagging voice (and an ill-advised Google search) reminded me that the same bucket of symptoms might be early warnings of Something that Kills You Dead and Fast, I called the doctor. Not the loosey goosey GP who likes to “wait and see,” not the midwife who caught my baby and danced at SpecK’s wedding, but the intervention-happy OB/GYNs who knocked me up and handled Sweetie’s recent surgery.
I was very calm about the whole thing, compartmentalizing it into the category of tire rotation and teeth cleaning. A responsible grown-up precautionary behavior. Until the triage nurse said “We’ll see you at 3:30 today,” over-riding the receptionist’s intention to give me an appointment a month in the future. Without either of us saying it, I knew she was also considering the possibility of Something that Kills You Dead and Fast.
So from 11 am to 3:30 pm on Tuesday, I was sure I was dying.
My first thought when I was dying was, “I can’t die, I have a child!” This is one of the first things I thought when the dancing midwife handed Small to me in the first place: “Oh shit, I have to keep it alive,” followed closely by, “That means I can never die.”
The next thing I thought was, “BirthPie and the Nectarine are going to fucking kill me if I die.” The thought of adding more grief and loss to the piles of grief and loss we’ve already been through these last few years horrified me.
During the four and a half hours on Tuesday while I was dying, I wished for only one thing: more time with Small. I didn’t wish I had had more wild sex, seen more of the world, or spent more sunrises on the beach. I didn’t feel bad that I was going to die without doing a full pull up, or that I never figured out what to study in graduate school or wrote a book. During those four and a half hours, I did not think one tiny thought about karate.
The one thing I wanted, all day while she was at theater camp oblivious to my imminent death, was to be with my little girl. Both to help my Sweetie finish raising her up and just to be with her, to feel her skinny little arms around my neck and smell her stinky feet and have her make me laugh. To hold her, to witness her funky little weirdness. To be her mama.
I felt so sad that I was dying and that Sweetie was going to be a single parent, but I never thought I needed to stay around because Sweetie wouldn’t do a bang up job on her own.
As I was driving to the doctor’s office I passed the ubiquitous sign of New England: Dunkin’ Donuts. Personally, I set a higher bar for donuts than Dunkin. But the sign made me start.
“I should have eaten more donuts,” I thought.
“And cheese. I also should have eaten more cheese.”
A brief spell in the hands of gentle, funny and smart nurses, doctors and techs confirmed my original supposition: perimenopause and indigestion. Glad you came in. Thanks for showing us the pictures of that baby we put into your belly, a big long-legged girl now.
Now maybe all this would change if I was actually dying for more than four hours. But for the four hours last Tuesday when I was dying all that I wished for were things I already have in great abundance, or could get in a heartbeat. The girl I grew in my body who has become the smartest, strangest and funniest person I will ever know. The woman I love, who is her mom. The friends who love me. A tempered piece of brie. A jelly donut from Tony’s Donuts, Portland, ME, with a honey-dipped chaser.