The Hardest Choice

It is Day 4, and the second day that I am inspired to write another short story about the hardest choice I had to make after my 16 hour reconstructive surgery failed and I was being rolled back into the operating room. Here goes…

It was Thursday, November 30th, 2000, a week after Thanksgiving; this was my big Reconstructive Surgery Day. An attempt to make up for my loss from the bilateral mastectomy. Life, as I knew it six months before today, would be restored. I wanted to believe that a life boat would sail me away and grant me freedom from the exiled island where I lived and felt trapped. Today, I am accepting and embracing everything that has happened in my life so far: My father’s death; my mom’s return of cancer and continuing treatment; my diagnosis on April 14, 2000 (my father’s birthday); my bilateral mastectomy with all of it’s complications; my chemotherapy with all of its’ dreadful side effects; my loss of my job as a successful legal assistant for over 10 years; basically my whole life. Yes, today is my day; I get the chance to make things right with my universe within. I hoped that it was not just an illusion.

Counting, 100…99…95, I am breathing in life, I see my surgeon with her mask, her eyes were reassuring and smiling, I blink. 85…80 I open my eyes again halfway, I see my mom, beautifully 1960’s coiffed light brown hair; almond-shaped pools of peaceful hazel green eyes; skin so soft and radiant that has been paled by society’s proscriptions; a sweet smile that always masked the pain of living in two worlds, now standing by my side, smiling and leans over to kiss me on my cheek. I hear the music of my father’s music that I gave the surgical team begin to play, “The Shadow of Your Smile”, it is filling the air, I am breathing and moving my soul– feeling every note. 75…70, I open my eyes again, I see my father, I can only see his face, I close my eyes tightly and slowly open them again, he is still there, he is smiling and leans over to kiss my forehead and says, “you are playing my music, I added the song I wrote for you when you were born, can you hear it?” I feel myself nodding. Darkness now has consumed me.

The next time my eyes open I am in the ICU, I am connected to several machines, they are beeping. Morphine drip is set on automatic. I stir trying to find some comfort in being in a lot of pain and searching for relief. I turn my head and open my eyes and I see Todd a friend from work is standing by my bed. He said he sneaked in, my mom told him where I was. We smiled and laughed. Suddenly, an alarm went off—nurses and staff come running in. I scream. “What is going on?” My mouth is covered with an oxygen mask. My surgeon is now standing next to me, says, “the graft failed, I have to take you back into the OR.” I said “WAIT! How long have I been in surgery?” She answered, “16 hours.” “What about my DNR?” She said “your mom rescinded it.” Suddenly my mother was beside the gurney as I was being wheeled to the OR that was awaiting me. My mom motioned for them to stop the gurney, she positioned herself to be in front of me. “I can’t mom, just let me go, ” I cried. She took my hand and said, “I need you, you have been my caregiver for the past 3 years and I still need you, I am your caregiver now and more importantly, it is not your time.”

That is when my journey changed course again. My fears drifted into the darkness to the center of my soul. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, then I exhaled, letting go of the most frightening and painful parts of my life. I began to feel as though I was sailing into uncharted waters, completely trusting and having faith that my life’s purpose and plan would take care of itself. Peace Out!