See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
The Surgery and the Call
I made an effort to keep the night of the surgery as normal as possible. I went to trivia, my friends supported me by not asking questions or putting me in position to think too much.
I went home, said my prayers, read my chapter in The Bible and went to sleep. At some point, I got a text saying she was in recovery. She’d be out for a while, but they’d know how things went when she woke up.
I’m not big on waiting. I wasn’t patient when I joined the Navy, and ten years of being a Sailor wiped out whatever remaining patience I had. There wasn’t much to do but wait.
I went back to sleep and woke without word.
I went to work and started my day and didn’t hear anything. My family was plenty busy supporting my mom, and I understood that, but it didn’t keep me from getting frustrated.
Eventually, I got word that she’d woken up and passed the first string of memory tests. This information is a bit shaky as I was hearing from a few different family members. The trick was, the doctors needed to work with my mom. In addition to that, they needed to do tests on the part of the tumor they took out.
The next bit of good news turned out to be that the tumor was isolated, meaning, as I understand it, it didn’t travel from anywhere or to anywhere.
The plan evolved into mom recovering and then going home. My mom and I have a lot in common. The relevant trait now is our desire for comfort and familiarity. I could imagine just how much better my mom would feel while being home.
I’m not sure if it was one or two days that passed, but I waited. I knew exactly how many people loved my mom and wanted news or to talk to her, so I wanted to wait to make sure I wasn’t just adding to the list of phone calls or to the pressure my family was already under.
As it happens, I had the chance to call her on Friday, the same day I usually call my mom to see how things are, the same day I’d last called her and felt frustrated at how distracted she was. I honestly still feel a bit guilty about that.
When I called, I could hear a few of my siblings talking to her. My dad was around. I’d already texted him to make sure that it was a good time.
I’m not going to try and type the actual conversation. For one, that was more than a few weeks ago. Also, what matters more is simply how jarring the conversation was.
My mom is articulate. She and I talk about books and movies all the time. She’s usually quick with a joke, and there’s always an awareness about her.
That’s not how she was when I talked to her. I knew she’d just literally gotten out of brain surgery, but hearing her fight to work with words and convey her thoughts hit me like a hammer.
What really matters is that even fresh from surgery, tired and struggling to communicate, my mom mad two things perfectly clear:
“I’m going to get through this, and I’ll be okay.”
Her strength and determination brought me to tears. She was going to spend another night at the hospital. Then she’d go home and rest while the doctors did tests and found out if the tumor was cancerous.
That was the plan, but it didn’t happen that way.
Questions and Revelations
It seems like you’re leaving a few things out.
I am. My family was under a ton of stress, and they were exhausted. Was there tension? Of course there was. But to explain those tensions and how it affected each member of my family would, I feel, invite too much opportunity for judgment or misperception. If what you want to know is we all struggled, and our nerves were wracked, well, we did, and we were. However, in times like this it can be too easy to state one point of view, which creates a bias that’s unfair. So, better to stick to the things that matter, the events that happened, and the fact that my mom was out of surgery and already determined to beat this, whatever it turned out to be.
How’d you handle the stress?
Poorly. I’m a temperamental man to begin with. I made sure my coworkers knew what was gong on. I had to ask them to more or less observe me, and let me know if I was acting unprofessional or overly angry. I promise I wanted to. I wanted to shout at every student who didn’t understand or listen. Honestly, I wanted to find something, someone, anything, anyone, and hit it as many times as I could until I felt better. I didn’t.
Trials are when we learn the most about ourselves. (At least, they’re one of two major times we learn about ourselves.) By that point, I knew that if one more thing happened or went wrong, I was going to flip. I’ll explain more about that in the next segment. Here, I just want to make sure you understand that at this moment, I felt like I was close to breaking.
I wanted to make sure that no matter how bad it got, I worshiped. I mentioned about the Israelites in the last segment. They were still fresh in my mind. They complained and demanded of God. My goal at that point was to be patient and praise him.
I can’t explain how hard that is. What got me through was focusing on those Israelites. I refused to be like them. I wanted to be grateful for what miracles I’d already witnessed (a successful surgery, and my mom passing the first few cognitive tests) and trust that God would handle the rest in his time.
If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog. I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.
Thanks for reading