I sat with friends the other night and one of the topics of conversation was their impending 40th birthdays. They sat around and complained about getting older and feeling older. The weight gain that they can’t get off as easily anymore. The increasing responsibilities at work and home. More wrinkles and more gray hairs. I sat and listened and nodded not having much to add. Inside my stomach was churning.
I wake up each morning and look at myself and like everyone else I overanalyze and recognize the need for self-improvement. I know I look tired. I am gaining more wrinkles around my eyes. I furrow my brows so often the deep forehead lines are really becoming evident as well. Instead of staring in the mirror and feeling bad about myself, instead of giving in to unrealistic societal standards I look at myself and think “I’m happy I got up today”. I’m happy I was given today. I celebrate those wrinkles as markers that show I am living and breathing. I celebrate my faults. I am happy to be here. I am happy to have been given another day.
As your own number turns this year, celebrate having another year. My husband didn't make it to 34.
Excerpt from “The Unexpected Widow:”
The sucker punch came on Monday morning, Jan. 26th, 2015.
I sat in that room by myself for what felt like hours. My mind raced. Did they tell me I’d be taken to a private room after surgery? Would the doctor meet me here? Is this normal? Should I be worried?
I tried to imagine the worst-case scenario. But what was the worst-case scenario, really? People don’t die during routine hernia surgery, do they?
“The news is not good,” the surgeon said. He sat on the couch opposite to me. I could tell by his tone and the empathy in his eyes this was serious.
“Your husband’s hernia is, in fact, fixed,” he said. “But we ran into some problems when we went in.”
“He had several masses in his stomach,” he stated. The surgeon didn’t know what to make of them but an initial report from the pathologist on call sounded deadly.
My head spun. The room started to go dark and I had to steady myself in the chair.
I’d heard of mesothelioma. On TV, in those horrible 1-800-ASBESTOS commercials.
“Has your husband ever been exposed to asbestos?” the surgeon asked, matter-of-factly.
“I’m not sure,” I whispered.
How does someone get exposed to asbestos? What IS asbestos? What are we talking here? Is it cancer? What is it?
“I’m so sorry,” the surgeon said.
I couldn’t think clearly. I couldn’t find my voice. I wanted to shriek, to scream, to grab him by the throat and ask, “What the hell are you talking about?”
Instead, I whispered, “Thank you.”
“Do you have any questions?” the surgeon asked, wrapping up.
Do I have any questions? I scream in my head. Of course I have questions! A million of them, in fact, but I can’t think of a single one right now.
I sat there a minute trying to regroup before I quickly began googling mesothelioma on my phone. Every website said the same thing: No prognosis. No cure. No treatment.
The rest of that morning was a blur, frankly. It’s like the world stopped, took a break and then started to turn again in a different reality. This wasn’t really happening. It wasn’t real. There’d been a mistake.
Meet the Author (me)
Driven by a need to help others. I have known from a young age that this is what I wanted to do. This is my very real, somewhat sarcastic, look into my newfound widowhood. I hope this site will help you as much as it helps me.