Saturday, December 10, 2011

The day she walked

Christmas eve 1994. This was the day our girl first walked without assistance. We were in St. Lucia with my parents for the holidays, and she just got up and walked across the sitting room with no warning. She just seemed to make up her mind. I ran for my camera. She was 9 months old, almost to the day. This is yet another photo recently unearthed for her yearbook project. Allow me the cliche: Dear God, where has the time gone?

I had oral surgery yesterday, my first elective encounter with any sort of medical professional in years. It's a start. They gave me conscious sedation, halcyon, I believe, and I floated the whole time, four hours worth of work, including replacing those pesky metal fillings spiked with mercury from my childhood. I was scared before I went in. I was afraid I would die, no lie. My brother, who is a doctor, recently helped me see that I am afraid of doctors, of what they will find. And he helped me see that I don't trust easily, I have a hard time putting myself in another's care. I am a control freak, no surprise there. I ask all sorts of questions, I'm always looking for the thing I missed, the detail I didn't know to be concerned about. But yesterday, I bit the bullet (or the sedative) and went under.

I survived just fine. My husband came to get me and held my arm because I was a little stumbly, my limbs felt all rubbery and I was feeling no pain, and he joked that he could ask me anything now and I would tell him all my secrets, but he already knows all my secrets so I told him to ask away. Back home he made me soft food and ordered me to drink lots of liquids as the nurse had instructed him to instruct me and I felt very taken care of. And I felt silly for having worried so much about dying.

Maybe I didn't die because that morning, on the way there, I had looked at the sunlight pouring down and said, Not today, God. You think I'm being dramatic, but I'm at the age where mortality is becoming real. But I plan to see my grandchildren take their first steps, graduate from kindergarten, high school, college, get married, all the rest. So the dentist is a start. Next up, all those tests they say you're supposed to get once you turn 50. None of which I have had. We're turning a corner here. I feel it.

The night before the procedure, I took a diazepam pill, as prescribed. My daughter lay next to me on the bed and asked, What is it supposed to do? I said, Just chill me out, level out my anxiety about tomorrow. She covered her face with her hands as if trying to keep a thought from bursting out of her. Tell me, I said. She shook her head and gave a rueful laugh. I was just thinking, she said, that one of those pills would have made this college process a whole lot easier on you.

Ah, the mouth of babes. The most difficult part of her college process is me. I know it, too. She is just going along with her life, homework and school work and her taped TV shows, choreographing her dance for Dance Concert after school every day, meeting up with friends to go Christmas shopping, cooking and baking and reading and playing Guitar Hero and being her sparkling self, and I am here, wondering when she will finish all those supplements, all those essays, a million and one essays, and she just says, it will get done, mom. Stop worrying, mom. I won't miss the deadline. Stop worrying.

All the kids who applied early decision are starting to hear from their schools. At my daughter's high school, 55 of the 71 kids in her class applied early. Supposedly, your chances of acceptance are better in the early rounds. This is the current hype. My daughter steadfastly refused to get caught up in it, resisting my prodding that she consider applying early somewhere. She refused to close down her options prematurely. I am so impressed with her equanimity and ability to moderate her stress, to cut through the noise and take the time to discern what feels right for her. I can only presume that she will be in her perfect college a year from now. This, my mother reminded me on the phone just this morning, is a walk of faith.


  1. Good for you. You're my hero! Keep walking.

  2. I have have gone under for 4 surgeries now and every one I think I am going to die. I need to have a surgery for a chip fracture and I am going to ask for a local anaesthetic.
    I hope you are feeling well after your surgery.
    I love the picture of your daughter. The little crossed eyes are so precious. My son walked at 10 months during the Christmas season. He fell a lot and always had bumps and bruises on his head!

  3. It is all a walk of faith, every moment, or so it seems to me. Bravo for the oral surgeon and other planned encounters. There are times and subjects that make me wish to keep my head in the sand. Your writing of this helps thin out that freak feeling. It so often seems as though everyone else does it right. In talking with a friend yesterday, I told her of an awareness some years ago in therapy: that I am Sisyphus AND I'm the rock. True then, still never entirely untrue. xo

  4. Your precious, precious baby girl. Then, now. Walking, running, soon to leap.
    Proud of her. Proud of YOU! I am the same way about doctors- what will they find? Awful. I hate going to them. Hate it.
    "Walk of faith." Yep. And for me, it is so much easier to realize that there is no ONE path. There are paths and the one we are on is the one we are on and we are not usually wedded to it and it will lead to another soon enough.
    Try not to worry so much about that girl, mama. She is going to be (she already is) FINE.

  5. Oh your daughter is so fabulous!!

    Did the diazepam do anything for you? It just gives me a little rush for a minute but then nothing (even at a quadruple dose). Maybe I'm just wound too tight?

    Good for you for facing the doctor demons!

  6. Oh I love that little picture of her, and her beautiful face now. And I so relate to making any process hard for your kids, when they themselves are fine. Sigh.

  7. I am so glad to have those college applications and unknowns behind us. Things will work out the way they are meant to wether we like it or not. I am always so grateful when Gods plans and ours coincide. It doesn't happen all that often. Then I have to readjust mine. Sigh. That's my only choice. Oh and I am turning 56 a month from tomorrow and have yet to have any of the tests they want us to do at 50 either. I so know what you mean about doctors!

  8. ellen, aim higher! LOL

    Birdie, the crossed eyes! one of her friends told her her eyes were "doing something funky" in this picture. haha.

    Marylinn, thanks you for helping me to thin out the freak feeling, just by saying that. it helps that others feel this way. it helps to know it is fairly normal. and that insight about being Sisyphus AND the rock. oh man. now that you mention it, yes. i am that too.

    Ms. Moon, thank you, sweet woman. i think you know goodness when you see it, so i'll live inside your words on this.

    NOLA, the diazepam did nothing very notable actually. but maybe it did distance the churning anxious feeling a bit. not sure.

    Maggie May, it's so hard to just step back and trust. we know so much of what can happen. and yet, and yet. we have to let them try, right? so scary, this raising of children!

    Kathleen, the unknowns. you put your finger squarely on it. i am not good with unknowns. and all life is unknowable before it happens. so that's my cross in a nutshell. let's go see all our doctors in the new year. we'll promise each other!