There I was driving my daughter to her dance class and I get that call that no one expects they will get. I had gone in for a routine sonogram of my ovaries, and then on what felt like an insignificant, take-my-daughter-to-her-first-of-two-dance-classes-for-the-week runs my GYN tells me, “Miriam (FYI for those of you who don’t already know my legal name, is Miriam, it was my great grandmother’s name and I wont ever legally change it) they found a mass on your ovary, so we need to get you an MRI with contrast for further testing.” I remember feeling a lump that took up a permanent residence in my throat, I couldn’t formulate words. Maybe it was my doctor’s matter-of-fact delivery of the news ( which you’d think I’d be quite familiar with, being that I live with a physician- who doesn’t sugar coat ANYTHING) but I immediately fell into this weird state of frozen panic.
Of course I didn’t want to completely freak out my daughter- I don’t want her to live with this cloud of dread, the way I grew up (with a mom always waiting for THAT TEST RESULT which would confirm her belief that her ailment du jour was THE ONE THAT WOULD CLAIM HER LIFE). So I calmly asked the GYN as nonchalantly as possible if I should be worried ( her responses DID NOT assuage my fears) and when my daughter asked me if everything was okay I said yes.
And here’s the thing about hearing that maybe something in your body is broken– there is not a GD DAMN thing you can do about it. You can panic, you can worry but really all you can do is wait, take the tests and hope and pray the results are that you can go back to watching The Real Housewives of wherever and pretend that life will never end. This is also when your marriage and when the person you call your spouse and the relationship you have with them is tested on every level.
Despite the fact that all I could do was take that MRI and wait, I worry. I panic, I think I believe that in the act of worrying I will somehow be able to manipulate the outcome and ultimately get the result I want. I engage in the power of magical thinking. Which of course is just that, magical and powerless. I can say that those 48 hours of waiting, crying, contemplating things that hide in the dark recesses of one’s mind were made slightly more bearable because of my husband and my sister who is a nurse.
My husband, who does not sugar coat anything, could not in fact sugar coat this. And while this all developed during our big The Meredith Vieria show debut– which until I got this phone call seemed like the greatest test of my marriage–my husband’s willingness to go on national TV with me and talk about orgasms, now felt like background noise in comparison to my health.
And in those 48 hours (amidst watching our very public admissions about what goes on behind the closed doors of our bedroom) waiting for the results to determine what type of mass was on my ovary I learned that love, true, gut-wrenching, walk through fire, lay down everything for someone love is simply just holding their hand. It is stroking their hand. It is hugging them. It s holding them close. It is promising to take on whatever challenges that might befall them. It is reminding them that they will stand right there with you and absorb whatever trauma you may experience. It is simply holding their hand.
I finally got the results and while I am okay, I can’t help but feel changed in a small, yet profound way. And then I read this post by a woman battling end stage cancer and realized that this life and those we love that is the gift, that is what needs to be treasured above all else.
“So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life.
Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children. You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.”