One of the things which stresses me out the most is the inability to articulate what’s happening inside of me. So tonight — on the eve of my wife’s cancer surgery — I’m going to try to sort that out… And share it with you.
My kids didn’t want to go to bed tonight. Which is completely understandable — We are leaving before they wake up in the morning to head to the hospital so a doctor can slice into their mother’s neck. But as they looked for more and more excuses to not be in their beds, all I wanted to do was run to the store to buy some toilet paper. And deodorant. And some toothpaste. And maybe some yogurt and Eggo Blueberry Waffles… Partially because we needed those things, but also because that is something I can control. I didn’t want to leave her alone with those hyped-up weirdos the night before she goes under the knife, so I just wanted them to go to bed so I could leave.
As I walked around the aisles, I kept getting messages from people who were telling me they were thinking of us. And praying for us. And sending us good vibes. And asking how they can help. And just being the sweetest human beings on the planet. And being our friends. And the next thing you know, I’m looking for a non-populated aisle where I can cry without making the rest of the dip shits at the Walmart feel uncomfortable. I picked the “ethnic food” aisle, but there were still quite a few people around. A man walking past me pointed at me and said the word “Niñita.” Which I assume means “manly.”
I stood there for a bit, next to the colorful bags of Takis, and tried to figure out what I was feeling. I guess I’m nervous? That’s part of it. There have been multiple people asking if she has a Living Will. Neither of us do. She asked the nurse what it is, and she explained that it basically details who makes decisions if something goes wrong, she’s hooked up to a machine, and someone has to decide when to “pull the plug.” Except that the woman doing our pre-surgery check in referred to it as “turning you off.” I explained that I am “usually only responsible for turning her on.” Anyway, now people are staring at the man walking around in Walmart, voice-to-texting into his phone about “turning her on,” crying in a super manly way… So that’s where I am.
I’m in an IN-BETWEEN PLACE. I’m not at peace. I’m somewhere between being feeling thankful for everyone’s prayers, and feeling a compulsion to want to explain to people the How and Why behind my belief that God is not in control of this. I am at the same time relieved to be free of the God who gives us cancer for a reason, and nostalgic for the time when I believed that if I said the right prayer or believed hard enough, God would work some sort of miracle. I want to hug the people who care enough to tell me that they are “sending good vibes my way,“ and I also want to scream that their “vibes“are every bit as superstitious as the prayers to the old God who sends a drought to punish people for being bad… “The God who can, but doesn’t.” I am equal parts feeling sorry for myself for being poor enough that this toilet paper is so expensive it makes me think about our cell phone bill, but also feeling blessed beyond my wildest imagination. I am angry that the person I love the most in the world is going through something like this, and at the same time so infinitely fortunate to have a woman like this to love. And to love me back.
I’m a big bald of emotions right now. If you know anything about The Enneagram, you should know that I am an Enneagram 4… The “Individualist.” I feel ALL THE THINGS, and I feel them deeper than you. In fact, I might be the ONLY person to feel things this way. Ever.
I asked Lillian what needed to happen tonight, and she started talking about needing to finish a “few more things” for the program for the play that our oldest daughter is working on. And I was like, “I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE FUCKING PROGRAM FOR THE PLAY… I’M TALKING ABOUT WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN BEFORE WE LEAVE FOR YOUR SURGERY IN THE MORNING!” But this is who she is… If you don’t know anything about my wife, that is a small part: She loves helping out, and she enjoys being needed. She still needs to pack, and she has to do some pre-surgery body wash thing, but she’s focused on helping out with our kids’ middle school. Because she’s awesome. Or maybe she TOO just wants something she can control. Probably both.
I’m uncertain. And that’s okay. “Uncertain” is a scary place to be. I think this is why many people find comfort believing that God knows what’s going to happen… Because at least SOMEONE knows how things are going to go. But I don’t. I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. I am HOPEFUL… And within the definition of hopefulness is uncertainty. One thing’s for sure, though… Well, actually TWO things are for sure: The first is that I’m having trouble catching my breath. And the second is this: Even though I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow… Even though I am scared and stressed and uncertain… Even walking the lonely aisles of this depressing place, I’m sure of this: We are surrounded by love.
And maybe that’s enough…
Thank you for reading. If you’ve given up on praying for miracles, I feel you. If you’re now a “good vibes” sort of person, send them our way if you’d like. If you’re a “praying for a miracle” type of person, feel free to pray for us. I happen to be a person who believes that God isn’t somewhere else, waiting to be cajoled into “showing up.” God is here. God is everywhere people are awake enough to open their eyes to see. And I am hopeful. If you want to read more about prayer, you can read THIS (skeptical), and also THIS (embracing the mystery). If you’d like you can LIKE ME ON FACEBOOK, or you can FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER. Or you can SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG by entering your eMail near the top of this page. Either way, THANK YOU!