What do you say to your family when you are not sure if it will be the last thing you say?
A little back story: In November, I got a cold and my left ear clogged up. I assumed it was all related, but after 3 ENT visits, 2 hearing tests, 1 CT scan, 1 MRI scan and a visit with a neurologist, we discovered it was a little bit more then that. There is a small bone missing around my brain and it is causing spinal fluid to leak into my left ear. This, of course, leads to several concerns like the possibility of a brain infection and hearing loss.
The ending result to all of the tests and appointments is surgery …. scheduled for March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day). My Otolaryngologist and Neurologist will take out a piece of bone from my skull (graphic I know) and place it the empty space between my brain and ear canal. I will spend the next day or two after surgery in ICU so I can be monitored 24/7.
With all that is going to happen in the next two months, I am left with quite a few emotions and fears. I never considered myself a person that was afraid of dying, but as I type this sentence, I can honestly say I AM TERRIFIED. Terrified of leaving my children and family behind, terrified of the dangers of this surgery and terrified of the unknown.
All the moments I spend with my children have become suddenly more important, like “who cares if your room is clean, let’s play Barbies instead.” All the meetings and volunteering myself for extra crafts or work has gone out the window. Any extra thing that takes time away from my family has become useless and unnecessary. There is a constant question in my head about how do I say goodbye, without actually saying it? With this surgery, I have no idea what will happen or how my body will handle it. The doctors think it will all be fine, but I can’t get rid of this nagging feeling of dread. So I am left feeling like I need to leave behind something for my children and family, just in case. Do I write them each a letter? Do I pull a Tony Stark (Ironman) and leave a video? Do I just give them both a hug and pray it’s not the last hug I ever give?
We have all heard the saying, “you can die any minute on any day, so live every moment and be prepared.” But my question is, are any of us ever really prepared? How do we tell all the people we know – friends, children, family members – how do you tell every single one of them what they mean to you, and how important they are to you?
Typing this blog post without crying is impossible, so filming an I love you / just in case goodbye video seems extra impossible. So today, I think I will start writing letters; these letters may never get read, but they will be there, just in case.
Thinking back on the people I have lost, I would give $295,759,927,474,749,274 (you get the point) to have a letter from them. One final message, one final I love you.
I do not intend to put a goodbye in the letter, but more of a “this is what you mean to me and this is how much I love you;” the thankfulness I have to them and to God for letting them be in my life.
Please forgive me for using the word “I” so many times in this post, but this one is extremely personal for me and I only have my perspective to compare it to.
In all of this, I have two pieces of advice:
1.) Listen to your body – Take it from a 31 year old, relatively healthy and active person. It may be something as simple as a clogged ear, but listen to your body when it seems off and go see a doctor.
2.) Prepare yourself for the just incase – Take an hour or two of alone time and write down what you would say to your family if you were gone tomorrow. You will CRY and you will hate every minute of it (trust me), but it is better to face it then to run form it.
As this post comes to a close, I wish all of you healthy, happy, long, peaceful and full of wonder lives. I am going to go squeeze my children in a giant bear hug until they giggle and say I’m squishing them.