I 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.