You may have seen this meme floating around Facebook lately:
Like most things on Facebook, I usually turn a blind eye but this one … this one hits close to home.
Last February was, by far, the toughest month of my entire existence. With the gift of hindsight, I can now lovingly label it the month of mortality but at the time, it was almost insufferable.
We were at Shawn's first follow-up appointment and had received the worst news possible. I had one question for the oncologist:
"So … just so … I'm not in denial … (tears, sobbing, gasps for breath) … he could die? This could be fatal?"
Immediately I was lost. Having no guidebook for such situations I did the only thing I could think to do, what my instincts were telling me to do. I asked the doctor to give my husband and I a minute and then … I hugged him (my husband, not the doctor). I hugged and kissed him and sat on his lap and held his face in my hands and looked him in the eyes and promised him things would be fine. I wiped away his tears and tried to calm his fears and swore to myself I would never again take another minute of life for granted because it turns out, we are not, in fact, immortal. Guess I have been in denial this whole time.
It was a moment I try not to think about but one I will never forget.
Needless to say, the drive home that night and the days that followed were a blur of insomnia, crying, talking, thinking, hoping, planning, praying. I remember bits and pieces of what actually occurred but a lot of the details have thankfully left me. There's one tiny thing that hasn't though. One very vivid memory that I still can't manage to shake. An instance during this whole God-awful ordeal that brought me past the point of sanity.
It was Saturday, February 8th, shortly after 6pm. Shawn had had surgery the night prior and I was leaving the hospital for the first time in roughly 36 hours. I was heading to my Mom's to see the girls, nurse Ivy and put them both to bed. It was a guilt-ridden trip to the parking ramp because on the one hand, I didn't want to leave Shawn, but on the other, I wanted so strongly to see the girls. I felt like a walking zombie as I made my way to the spot where we'd tediously parked my Mom's Ford. It had taken us a couple tries to get it right because it is a (giant) full-sized truck that takes a tiny bit of finesse to park it in such tight quarters. (Not to mention our minds might have been a wee bit preoccupied.) In the end, after Shawn had gotten out and directed me perfectly between both lines, we felt confident we had done a good job.
Apparently someone else had thought we hadn't because after I drove the few levels down and was about to exit the ramp, I noticed something on the windshield, or rather under the windshield wipers. I pulled over to the side, jumped down and grabbed the foreign object only to find this staring back at me:
It felt like someone had punched me in the gut and all the air had forcefully left my lungs. Considering everything we had just been through, this should've been a blip on the radar, a non-event, a good laugh but instead, I felt completely the opposite. I felt shameful. I felt like I had done something wrong. I was physically exhausted, mentally numb and emotionally on the verge of breaking down. In the past week I had had to come to terms with the possibility of losing my husband and some asshole thought it was okay to leave this note on my windshield. MY windshield. At Mayo. Because, you know, people are usually at Mayo for happy, uplifting news and events.
I went back and forth between embarrassment and anger and eventually decided to just hide the note and keep the story to myself as a life lesson learned because up to this point, I was someone who would probably consider leaving such a note. (Maybe not as colorful and to the point, but still.) I was always finding myself annoyed with people, frustrated with strangers, raging at the road and overall being unkind when I thought the situation called for it. Long story short, I am no longer like this. I am, as they say, a changed person. In fact, I often think about the person who wrote this and what horrible place they must've been in to stoop to such an outlet. They obviously could have used some kindness in their life.
I now carry this note with me at all times as a reminder. A reminder of the events of February, that moment with my husband, the mortality of life and the patience with which we should live it.