Saturday, December 8, 2018

Looking Back After Shit Times End

A year ago, I was unraveling. It was a scary time. I felt like a husk of a person. I honestly can't believe that was only 12 months ago.

The morning of the surgery.
A month ago, I was terrified. In September, Ben discovered he had a tumor the size of a second eyeball growing in his eye socket. It was large enough that it was moving his eye out of place and, due to a small gap in the top of his orbital bone, was interfering with his brain. My husband, who lived in mortal fear of needles and tests, lived with constant needles and tests while we made preparations for a major surgery to get rid of the tumor and close up the disrupted bone. In a large way, Ben was processing his mortality. In a smaller way, he was perseverating on getting an IV before surgery. In a large way, I was processing the way this echoed the brain surgery my father never woke up from during the same week 21 years earlier. In a smaller way, I was feverishly planning every single thing I could to fake some semblance of control.

Even before he went under, we were wrapped in love. Friends and family
24 hours post op!
supported us with gifts of money, home cooked meals, and their physical presence- my mom and sister stayed with us for a week, taking care of the boys and making sure life ran smoothly so I could concentrate on Ben. Everyone had good words and good luck vibes to send. The prayer committee was working overtime. It was truly an embarrassment of riches, and support we wouldn't have survived without. And then every step of the process yielded a best case scenario. They were able to remove the tumor without going in from the top of his skull, which meant 3 hour surgery versus 8, and a much quicker recovery. He went home the next night. He was driving in two weeks. He goes back to work on Monday. The most relieving news of all? The tumor came back from pathology benign and unlikely to return. My mantra in all of this was "It will all be over by 2019!" And it came true. 

I am well aware that you don't get out of an MRI machine to a panicked tech telling you to go straight to the doctors and have the entire issue be cleared up within two months. That simply doesn't happen. We dodged a huge bullet. 

Thanksgiving Day, strategically posing to hide the incision.
It's a weird time to be reflecting. Maybe also an awesome time? I was thinking about how jumbled things were a year ago, how frozen I felt a month ago, and how interested I am to see how things proceed. All this hardship (which is relative, and mixed in with some extremely wonderful moments/stretches of time throughout 2018) teaches you a lot about what feels good. Knowing I physically couldn't take on the amount of work that slayed me in 2017 made me more thoughtful about how I spent my time in 2018. That felt good. Expecting that I would spent the end of 2018 caring for a significantly sicker husband than I ended up with, I cleared my schedule. We ended up using those empty days to spend family time- lots of dinners together, movie nights, and fires in the fireplace. That felt good. And I woke up this morning knowing I could do anything (It's Saturday, bless!) but I wanted to get my feelings down here. It's not Instagrammable and it won't build my freelance resume, but it will let me look back in a year and see what was happening in the aftermath of this big life event. I love going back and reading about what I thought was worth writing down at different times. That feels good. 

Maybe that's the plan for the new year- focus on what feels good. Not necessarily in the moment, but what actually feels good, as in strong, thoughtful, gentle, supporting. What will build a feeling of good that will outlast a moment of desire and help me get to where I want to be? I think it's things like appreciating family time, making sure to reach out and thank the people who helped me survive November, and looking back to celebrate the growth that happens whether you're paying attention or not. It feels good to write here, and have it all down. Thank you for reading it. 


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