“What are we going to do today?” is usually one of the first things out of my youngest son August’s mouth every morning. I know it is my fault. I am a planner and far too often set the tone of the day with a schedule. Already, he is most comfortable when he knows what is coming.
Making plans is how I give myself some illusion of control over what is happening around me. If I have planned the day, then I get to run the show. If I am running the show, I am in control and nothing bad will happen, right?
I, too, am most comfortable when I know what is coming. I can run our lives efficiently when we are scheduled down to the minute. It’s my job to know what’s best as mother and wife and, by God, I.Will.Be.The.Very.Best.At.My.Job. No matter what. White knuckles and all.
“So how are you today?” my therapist asked at this week’s recent appointment.
It felt like déjà vu. We had had this exact session about six weeks ago. At that time, I went in with my brain feeling like scrambled eggs. My daughter Ellie was scheduled for open-heart surgery that next week and I was losing my grip on reality. Everything around me served as a reminder that these could be the final moments we have with her.
On this day, it felt the same. Same scrambled egg brains, same sleepless nights, same compulsive crying, same chest pains, same are-you-cherishing-every-last-moment guilt.
About six weeks ago, we went into the hospital for Ellie’s pre-op appointment to prepare for the next day’s surgery where she tested positive for a cold virus. Automatic foul. Benched. Disqualified. DNF.
I had been training for this event for months. Years, even. I had anticipated every scenario. I studied the tapes. I got my house in order. I ate right. Stressed right. Worked my muscles. I followed the plan and was determined, white knuckles and all, to plow right through surgery and walk out of that hospital, victorious, holding Ellie’s hand. I had it all planned.
But hospital protocol said that we had to reschedule. Her body needed enough time to heal and come back ready to fight. I may have been ready, but she wasn’t.
It was brutal news. We had a lot of support from friends, family and her medical team. I knew it was the right thing to do, but that didn’t make it any easier.
I knew that I should be thankful for the extra time we were afforded with her. I heard the words when people told me that “these things happen in God’s time.” I understood that there was something to gain from this pause, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t want yet another full-stop learning experience. I have had enough of those and am so tired of hitting the same brick wall.
“It’s a latent period,” my therapist said this week. “You are sitting in the middle. Waiting. And you have been waiting for a long time.”
My husband Ben comes up with the silliest games, and because I have silly children, they stick. One of them is called “Honaker Sandwich.” The way to play is to have one of the kids – or sometimes even all three of them – stand between the two of us while we hug and dance singing, “It’s a Honaker Sandwich. Mommy is the bread, daddy is the bread, (and if all three of the children are between us) Ellie is the cheese, Jack is the meat, Gus is the pickle. It’s a Honaker Sandwich.”
There is beauty in the middle. I know that. I have witnessed the growth that happens when I have to sit and wait. There is nothing that I can do to go back and change the past or speed up the clock towards the future, and in actuality, I am just sandwiched between the two always. We are all sitting in the middle, looking forward to what is next.
Ellie’s surgery is scheduled for this Tuesday, July 26. We will go in again on Monday for pre-op testing to make sure she is in tip-top shape. I wouldn’t want her going into this surgery any other way.
I would like to say that this time around, I am planning less and enjoying the middle more, but that wouldn’t be the truth. I still plan to walk out of the hospital holding my little girl’s hand at the end of this.
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