The thing Daughter wanted the most for Christmas this year was a microscope. As fortunate people, we were able to make that happen for her and she was beyond thrilled. In a quiet moment on Christmas morning, after she ran outside to gather a few specimens for examination, she and I got to chatting. After she drew the same conclusion that I had as a youngster, I told her that the greatest thing about getting my own microscope as a child was the new view of the world I had as a result. I saw how important and complex and powerful all of the small things around me really were. I was mesmerized.
As I grew up, I think I stopped seeing the world this way, at least in my day to day, to keep my sanity. I had to stop micro-examining everything but stay reflective at the same time. It was a difficult balance to strike. I managed well for quite a while, and then I got told, “You have cancer.”
Now, my micro-examiner is back and looking into everything with a magnifying lense. What will this look like? How will I feel? Why do I feel like it’s such a big deal when it’s “run of the mill breast cancer?” What if I do, as my doctor now suspects, need some sort of mastectomy instead of just the lumpectomy? What if I need chemotherapy? How do I manage every day? Who will pick up Daughter? How will I make dinner? Who will remind the people I love that I do, in fact, love them every single day? What if I wake up one morning and just don’t want to do it?
While all of these micro-thoughts are racing in my brain, it is Christmas. I am trying to be present and part of each moment. I am trying to smile and laugh and let my mother know I love her and I’m fine. I’m trying to pretend that I’m really, completely and perfectly, adjusted to everything. Really, I’m not.
I struggle with wondering if that’s ok. I feel like it is somehow unfair to my family, immediate and extended, to feel overwhelmed in each moment. I feel guilty to have taken a moment alone today to breathe hard and hold back tears. I feel sorry that I was angry. Right now, I see how important and complex and powerful all of the small things around me really are. I am terrified. I hope it’s ok.