On Sunday I woke up with the feeling of angst. Monday was the day I was going to my urologist’s office to learn the findings of my recent CT scan. I’d done a really good job of not thinking about this day over the Thanksgiving holiday. But on Sunday morning I could not keep the anxiety at bay. I kept envisioning what the doctor would probably say.
I’m sorry, but we didn’t see anything.
Because those are the words I’ve been hearing for many months now from several doctors despite many tests.
I decided that preparing myself for no answers would be the best route. At least I won’t be any worse off when I come out of the office than going in; I told my shaky heart over and over.
But uncertainty is hard. Uncertainty is uncomfortable—especially when you are one who likes to know, plan, and prepare.
I went to my paper calendar and reviewed the week’s appointments and events. My twelve-year-old daughter walked up and lovingly leaned against me. “Tomorrow you go to the doctor, Mama,” Natalie said knowing this was an important day. “What’s he going to say?”
“Well, he will tell me the results of my CT scan, and then we’ll go from there,” I explained, not really knowing what else to say.
“I know what we can do,” she said suddenly. “Let’s make your famous sugar cookies today!”
I wasn’t sure where that idea came from, and I wasn’t too hip about the mess we were about to make, but I felt strongly I should say yes. I pulled out my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook and opened right to the sugar cookie recipe. It’s the page hardened with spills and dusted with flour, so it’s easy to find. This sight alone brought me a glimmer of peace.
When my younger daughter Avery heard us getting out the mixer, she came to help. Pretty soon we were rolling dough side-by-side like we did when they were little.
Once the cookies were in the oven, Natalie worried that they’d spread into each other while they baked. I assured her they wouldn’t. I knew they’d rise, but wouldn’t spread. I’d been making them for several decades.
During that time together, we decorated, sampled, and laughed. The girls even helped me clean up the kitchen, indicating they really are growing up.
The rest of the day took a positive slant from then on. I put a few of the cookies in the freezer for my dad because they are his favorite. Avery wrote a song and played it for me. (I proudly concluded that if Ed Shereen wrote worship music when he was nine, it would sound like this.) I took a walk and listened to my favorite album, August and Everything After by the Counting Crows. It’s soothing to the soul when you know all the lyrics by heart.
At bedtime Natalie whispered, “Thanks for making cookies today, Mama. It was so fun.”
I thanked her for asking and said, “I’m not sure why, but cookie baking made the whole day profoundly better.”
I slept unexpectedly well that night. But by the time I got into the doctor’s office, anxiety was back on high alert. Although I was prepared to hear the doctor to say, “We see nothing,” I knew those words would be very hard to hear. Tears teetered on the edge of my eyes. I hoped I wouldn’t cry. I held my own hand when the doctor sat down on the stool in front of me. What he said was not what I had expected.
“You are a medical mystery.”
He got out a medical picture book and began pointing to the illustrations. “There is definitely something amiss,” he said as he pointed to an enlarged left ureter. But the cause for my condition (hydronephrosis) could not be detected on the CT scan.
“You’re a medical mystery,” he said again. “And that’s not a good thing.”
The doctor began talking about a surgical procedure he’d perform to relieve the condition and find the possible cause. Not knowing how I was supposed to feel about all this, I took notes and asked him to spell words I did not know. Anesthesia and operating rooms make my teeth chatter, this was what I knew.
As the sun began to set later that night, I called out to Avery who’d just finished practicing her guitar. “It’s beginning to get dark,” I said, “Let’s take a walk around the block. Many of the neighbors put up Christmas lights over the weekend.”
Without protest, Avery slipped on her shoes and we headed down the driveway. She began chattering about her upcoming school play and what part she wished she’d gotten. About five minutes into the walk she stopped suddenly and said, “Smell, Mama. It’s the scent you love.” Pointing to the brown house she explained, “They’re doing laundry, remember?”
Tears sprang to my eyes.
Throughout the month of October we’d taken walks to look at Halloween lights. When we got to a certain point on our walk, I’d always comment on the smell of fresh laundry drifting through the air.
“It’s definitely coming from Luke’s house,” she said. “Luke smells good every day in class,” she confirmed.
I put my hand over my mouth for fear I’d burst into tears right then and there.
I am a medical mystery. I face a medical mystery. But there is beautiful evidence of LIFE to cling to in this time of uncertainty.
Cookies will rise … my dad will be pleased I saved him a couple of frosted angels … my child will taste the icing again and again … the Counting Crows will soothe my weary soul … my little songbird will keep writing her songs … that sweet family will do their Downy fresh laundry, and Luke will smell good when he sits in class.
No matter what mysteries we face today, there are clues all around us indicating hope is near … goodness is abundant … and we are being held in loving, faithful hands.
My friends, whether we are facing small mysteries or gigantic ones … whether they’re mysteries for ourselves, our loved ones, or the world in its most troubling state, I am certain this is how we must deal. We must:
Because when we do, our people are thankful we joined in.
Because when we do, we see, taste, and smell beautiful things we might have missed.
Because when we do, angst diminishes and hope swells.
Because when we do, the beautiful Evidence of Life becomes stronger than any troubling mystery we face.
I am a medical mystery. I face a medical mystery. But nothing will stop me from carrying on. Please join me, friends. Let’s carry on. Together, hope swells higher.
Dear friends of the Hands Free Revolution, I am so grateful for your supportive comments, prayers, and well wishes. Last week when one of you wrote on the Facebook page, “I will give you my kidney,” I cried. Your support and love has been the beautiful evidence, the warm blanket, the lifeline to carry me through. My surgery is taking place on Monday (12/7) so I will be taking some time to recover and heal. I will have my Tiny Topics notebook handy to jot down anything that might help us all live better and love more in the new year. Thank you so much for keeping my books, HANDS FREE LIFE and HANDS FREE MAMA, in mind as you purchase holiday gifts! Please enjoy 30% off all items in the Hands Free Shop through December 6 with the code: MERRY30. The stylish vintage tee’s have been reduced to $10.
Final note – Although I prefer to share my messages through the written word, I have been told my voice is calming and mesmerizing. I heard a little of that here in this enjoyable television interview that recently aired on 100 Huntley Street in Canada. Enjoy!
I am so grateful for every single one of you!