Four years into life with adequate bosoms there came an aching under my arm,
a numbness to my fingers that would come when I played hard with my kids
or worked vigorous in the yard.
Eventually I could feel it, a tumor the size of a tennis ball.
I was scheduled for surgery and waited eager after for the biopsy report.
The young general surgeon was flippant with his quick share –
not cancer; it’s a reaction to silicone.
I’m 34 now and where is my voice? My questions?
I remember only the speed at which I escaped his office,
shaken with shame.
What have I done?
My body made a tumor because I got fixed?
Never did I imagine this was a possibility- certainly no one said.
I’m thinking of the couple of kid’s ball games I missed while my arm dangles in a sling,
of the concern my faith community is showing for me while I recover,
how completely undeserved now feels all this care.
People have brought us food – what can I even say to this?
“It’s not cancer,” I fake-smile to those who ask, and pretend to share their relief.
Part of me wishes that it was, so deep is the shame that hushes my voice
and compels me to swallow the secret.
I live in a new town, new community, and I don’t want anyone to know
that it’s all really my fault,
how much more I may really be less than.
I want the implants out but that takes three more years of living,
three more years of also wanting to keep this emboldened beauty
that gives me leverage in the coming from way behind.
I want them out but I grieve how will I ever see him looking at me
and not dissect his glance for traces of disappointment.
I want them out but how will I hide it?
Who won’t wince shame that I’m not what I seem?
So, yeah, I want them out but it takes some more living.
We reside in a new town when I travel back to Raleigh for the surgery to remove them,
back to the same place and smells and feels and my skin crawls mad
but I’m ridiculously pleasant
when the nurse wakes me up in recovery to tell me that the implants have ruptured
and, what a mess, they did the best they could.
It took a while to clean up the silicone
and I feel sorry for their trouble.
Like clean up on aisle nine; sorry for the spill.
Sorry to be a bother.
I lay flat on the gurney in a fog, wrapped in heavy bandages
and squeak the only one question I can tug free
before the busy nurse hurries me into my clothes:
“Will it be okay?”
“Mm-hmm,” she chirps,
and then, “you just need to get some rest,
let those sutures heal
and let us know if you want to size up next time.”
The suggestion stirs my stomach queasy
and I groan something about never again
and gather myself up for the ride home.
It’s finally over.
And with a heave of grace, it was okay.
Until it wasn’t.
“A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what’s coming next
is coming with it’s own heave and grace.”
– Mary Oliver
I hate leaving the story here! I started this series last post and will
keep on telling until my pen runs clear;
Always there is risk in the telling because I want to say it true
but can’t tell it fast enough to say all the colors.
I won’t leave you here in the weeds:)
(I promise this girl gets free:))
I appreciate your kind words, each and every one.
Congratulations to Maureen Blake; I drew your name:)
I’m thrilled to send a book your way.
I want to give away another book this week;
leave a comment and you’re in the hat!