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.