Perfectly Formed Letters & Weeping Utterly Alone

I don’t know why I’m writing this. It doesn’t have any brilliant take aways, no pithy lessons for you to implement. Nothing particularly inspirational or uplifting to make your afternoon.

It’s kind of depressing, really.

But I need to get this out of me. And I need to expose it to the world.

Because for some reason, in a little way, writing helps fix me. Heal me.

To center me back to a person who can actually get things done, and not just spend her Sunday afternoon curled up weeping in the fetal position on her queen size bed, cuddling her koala bear, using toilet paper to wipe her tears instead of tissue because she hasn’t got her act together enough to get to the freaking grocery store.

Here it is.

I’m so tired coming back from Atlanta. From speaking. From being in a room full of people going through transformation, their chaotic energy permeating me against my will. From things that happened that are yet unbloggable but translate into lessons learned and changes coming.

Yet one little piece of my current angst I can and need to share with you. It’s from an exercise at CIP designed to help you recognize part of your truth.

The exercise is to think about your best day, and your worst day, and to find where those feelings live in your body. And use that body awareness to identify whether a particular choice (i.e., should I host a live event in January?) is a positive or a negative choice with you.

As soon as she asked the questions, I knew what mine were.

My worst and my best were all this July. Of course.

My worst moment was not when Gracie was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Not when I was sitting in my doctor’s office, Gracie off playing with the nurses, as the doctor showed diagrams of brains and explained what was wrong with her, telling me I needed to immediately drive us both to the ER of UCSF Medical Center and hand her over to the pediatric neurosurgeons. Not when I texted Alli the news. Not when I told Gracie we weren’t going to Calgary because she needed to go to the doctor so they could fix her head, and she cried in the back of the car.

The worst moment was the first time I was alone, after I got the news.

Utterly alone. Gracie was sleeping, finally. I was curled up in a “bed” (aka a folded out chair) in the open, ward-style PICU, a few feet from the nurses station. Behind a curtain.

For the first time all day, I let myself think. I thought about the first time I ever held her, in the hospital, right after I birthed her, right after the NICU nurses got the meconium out of her lungs. She was unbelievably tiny, still covered in guck.

I remember when we drove her home from the hospital, her crying in the carseat, I’m weeping in the front of the car because I’m so overwhelmed with how much I love her, how impossibly much I want to comfort her.

I remembered all the times I raised my voice to her, all the times when I was too busy to read her a book or to play with her. All those missed opportunities to spend time with her.

And it could be all over. No second chance.

Curled up in that hospital blanket, I shook with silent sobs, weeping for all of the could have done’s and might have been’s and if only’s. Weeping for all the ways I may have failed. For the life she may not get to lead.

That moment was the worst.

And I felt it almost outside of me, on the edges of my skin, dripping from my fingertips.

The best moment was not when she came through surgery.

Not when I saw her wake up and ask for her mommy. Not when the surgeons told us that it was everything that they hoped for. Not when we got the positive pathology report. Not when we were discharged from the hospital.

The best moment was when I saw Gracie write her name.

It was about a week after her surgery. The hospital had a bingo game for all the pediatric patients, where they had to watch this closed-circle TV feed while they called the symbols/letters and mark it off as they went.

Gracie was so excited to win a prize. She was so worried about getting the bingo (they go long enough so everyone gets to win). And of course, she did win a beautiful barbie doll, picked out for her by our friend Alison – but had to write her name on the page to turn in her sheet & get her prize.

I watched in awe as Gracie wrote her name perfectly for the first time.

Straight. On a line. Precisely formed letters. With no prompting.

Remarkably better than she had ever written it in her life. Until then, her handwriting was so shaky it was unreadable, to the point where she generally refused to write. Or color. Or do art of any kind. (Of course that was because she had a tumor in her cerebellum, killing her coordination, for the last 12-18 months.)

That was the moment I knew she would be better. That everything would be fine.

That all of the shakiness, and fear, and meekness that had appeared when she was sick, and after her surgery, would resolve itself, and the self-assured, outgoing, independent, creative, loving girl would reemerge. That my daughter was going to get herself all the way back.

That moment was the best.

And I felt it in the connection with my soul, in my solar plexus, in the very truth of my cells.

Thank you for letting me share that story with you.

You know, sometimes there isn’t a point to the story. Or at least, sometimes I can’t think my writing into a point.

Sometimes it’s just about letting the story out, and allowing you do with it what you will.


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