Diagnosis – Day 5

IV lineI felt oddly detached when delivering the bad news to my mother. My husband offered to make the calls to our parents, but I believed such news should come from me. I kept to the briefest details, avoiding any mention of how scared I was, or anything other than surgery dates. I saw no sense in telling her what the doctors were going to do, or the extent of the disease. That could wait until later.

Probably one of the shortest calls we’ve ever had. She asked if she could pray for me over the phone. My guilt and regret over refusing the gesture was out weighed by my resentment and anger over why this was happening to me.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath… holding it for a slow count. One, two, three, four, five….

“Not right now, I just can’t.”

She said she understood, but I know she didn’t.

I was still reeling from the news. My emotions were so raw, the last thing I wanted was to hear my mother praying to the very deity I blamed for my condition. It would’ve been like thanking my abuser for beating me.

“Thank you Sir, may I have another.”

My mother’s prayer was intended to show me she had faith that I’d be healed. Was I right to deny her, believing the benediction was more for her benefit than mine? Perhaps I should’ve consented for that reason alone.

What do I owe my loved ones when dealing with this? Do I allow them a certain leeway to do what comforts them even if it’s jarring to me?

I fear that I will be selfish in my despair, hoarding my outrage and misery without regard for the collateral suffering of those close to me.

*Purely a piece of fiction, this arose from a dream. Upon waking, I was left wondering if I would be gracious toward loved ones if I were ever diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. Would I be able to put up with having people ask stupid questions, or offer unsolicited advice, or “someone I know” anecdotes. Or would I “not suffer fools” and abandon tact and compassion for their worry. A bit of truth in this is that I know my mother would want to pray for me immediately, especially over the phone if I couldn’t tell her the bad news in person. I also know that small gesture would completely piss me off.

The photo is from Christmas night, 2009, while I was in the hospital having my diseased appendix removed.

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

12 thoughts on “Diagnosis – Day 5

  1. again, you make me think and question.

    reading it, knowing it was fiction, was easier because I didn’t worry about YOU (the Tara, my friend) and instead I focused on the woman in the piece. The questions, the uncertainty, the wrestling of feelings and the care we feel we should (and would) show our loved ones when given news of our own demise.

    there was a time in our infertility when even when I was begging the Divine to help, to listen, to f’ing answer my own prayers that hearing, “I’ll pray for you” made me want to scratch the eyes out of the well meaning person saying it to me. If my own sobbing prayers weren’t working, how could I expect that someone else’s on my behalf would?

    I don’t think any of us know what path we’d take at that point, faced with the news…but this scene gave me one perspective that I believe I would have some of those confusing, hopeless/hopeful days.

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    1. I think you hit on it… what is it about me that this would happen, and why weren’t my prayers sufficient. I’ve known people in this situation who were more concerned about the people around them, if they were coping well, than how they were. I don’t think I could be that unselfish.

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      1. I will tell you the story of how unselfish I was about an incident with Gio and another little boy at school (just 2 weeks) ago …somewhere other than here. But I was more concerned about that little boy than I was about Gio at the time and honestly, I don’t know where that came from. It made me look at my mothering in a whole new way and want to be SELFISH.

        I blame myself for much of what happens to me, as if my past dictates that shitty things should happen to me, but when I look deep down inside, I know how hurtful that is.

        I think I would be more concerned about my family, friends and even my medical staff (I was in my infertility..worried about how my disease and condition was affecting others) than I would be about myself. I am not sure what that says about me.

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        1. Ideally, there should be a happy medium. That we can be concerned about our loved ones, and still stand up for ourselves if something happens or said that bothers us. After the initial hurt and anger, I think I could get to that point… but there may be a lot of tongue biting.

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  2. Thank you for emphasizing the fictitious nature of the piece. Knowing how you wrestle with the religion that you feel is your own, I was seriously worried that this was you. I am in awe of your ability to make a person who I believe and believe so completely on a regular basis. No matter how many times it happens, I always forget and once more read a piece of first person fiction thinking, “Oh no! Tara!!” That takes fucking skill.

    On another note, I’m heartbroken about your kitty. I know that kind of loss, and I want to hug you.

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