When you ask someone their first memory, they usually tell you something about playing with a toy or school or they will describe playing with a new sibling. My first memory is laying on a couch. I was laying on a couch, while a man with a reddish orange beard had his hands between my legs and said it was okay because it would tickle and I could be a big girl like my Mom. That’s what he did to her and she always did. I remember the color of his jeans and that’s probably why I hate when men wear that color now.
We are stuck in this paradox of life telling everyone to plan for the future but live for the moment. Yet there is so many of us us who have a hard time breaking out of our memories because they flood us over and over everyday, washing us away in the tides of the past. It doesn’t matter how much I therapy I do or how many times I tell myself I am okay and know how to protect myself, men with beards still scare me. A man with light colored jeans will all but stop me in my tracks. When someone experiences trauma, it is something they can never just move past. It becomes a part of who we are. Which leads me to question, which trauma am I? Am I just trauma?
Sure, there have been tremendous moments of happiness and laughter in my life. Moments crashing back into the waves, singing while speeding down highways and shouting “I WIN!” at the top of my lungs…somehow, in this moment of my life they seem egregiously muted as I am searching for sunlight. I started my day today with a word I thought I would never hear again. Lymphoma. Three years ago, I slayed this beast. Three weeks ago…I found a lump in my neck. Although, I had been experiencing some symptoms, they could have been caused by a myriad of things. My husband experienced a brain injury 5 weeks ago so I am super stressed! I haven’t been sleeping so I am exhausted. I’m clumsy so the bruises could be explained. I already am caregiving for a son with Traumatic Brain Injury…I mean really…I have a lot on my plate. Symptoms could have come from anywhere. Then there was a lump.
The lump. It was there and I didn’t feel good. Everybody had the shit that was going around so it was just a swollen lymph node and my immune system sucks. Week one it grew. Week two it grew. Week three. Fuck. It is still here. I don’t want to tell anyone. There is so much bad going on in my life. I am so scared of what it could be. I know what it could be. I’ve played this game before. Last time there weren’t visible masses. I finally let my husband feel it. “What the fuck is that?!” “I don’t know.” “You better get it looked at.” I called the doctor and he was out of appointments! WOOOOOHOOOO!
Guess who got a call back? With your history, he wants to see you first thing in the morning. “I don’t really like the placement or that it’s sitting under the muscle wall.” I’m going to set your ultrasound and schedule you to see the surgeon.” “However, it could be a lot bigger so we have that working in your favor.” “Thanks Butch.” In that moment, every hospitalization for my son and my treatments came rushing back to me. I was alone and scared. I don’t do scared. There are emotions I don’t allow myself. Scared I have found is one of them.
I don’t know what scares me though. Last time I was sick, my son had just been diagnosed with a horrible brain disease. I never let him know I was sick. I sat through every brain surgery. Scheduled my chemos and appointments for days he was allowed out of the hospital. He never knew Mama was sick. At that time, Daddy was 100%. Right now we are looking down a double barrel shot gun. I am back at work. My sweet baby (17) is looking at going back to see very specialized doctors for a special kind of brain cancer. Daddy is not at 100% and probably never will be again. As for me…it is the fear of the unknown and all of the memories that crash upon the shore of my brain. The smells of Oncology wing. The words Lymphocyte and Monocyte and fact that I even fucking know those words and meanings. The fact that it is April and I march for Sexual Assault Awareness while funding is being cut. The fact that I have slept a whole night through the entire year of 2017 without a nightmare. The fact that the memories that never fade are not the beautiful ones.