“We’re going to drill four holes into your skull and screw a crown to your head so you can’t move it while we’re doing the procedure…you will have to be awake for this”. These words…along with the words I heard ten minutes later, made me start thinking how mere words can really change your life. In an instant. I was fascinated by the ride the words took me on today.
Suddenly, as if in an “end of life flash”, all the words that have strongly impacted my life over the past nearly 50 years came flooding into my consciousness. Words of sweetness, words of accomplishment, words of heartache, words of pain, words of blessing, words of joy, words of anger, fear and relief. Words of beginnings and of endings. Words that made my heart stop. Words that stick with me.
Pam, your daughter looks so much like you ~ i love you ~ Missy Tansey is the Spelling Bee Champ ~ you don’t want to be a social worker…you should be a writer…or a stewardess…just get over your fear of flying ~ don’t come home for Thanksgiving if you’re dating HIM ~ in fact, don’t come home at all ~ welcome to florida ~ we have to accept minorities first and your last name is Hispanic, are you a minority? ~ you’ve been accepted to Graduate school ~ congratulations on your degree ~ welcome back to iowa ~ i would be honored if you would have dinner with me ~ will you wear this ring? ~ I do… ~ at your age you’ll be lucky to get pregnant at all and the most you will be pregnant with is TWO ~ we have some good news, you’re pregnancy test is positive ~ there are THREE fetuses but two of them are not likely to make it and one is perfect ~ Don’t you think you should wait to have kids until you have money? ~ IT’S A GIRL!!! ~ I’m not going to stop drinking and if you don’t like it get the fuck out ~ CUNT ~ I will never drink again ~ You’re pregnant AGAIN???…you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me??? ~ I’m sorry, I think you’re having a miscarriage ~ You are the top candidate for both positions, take your pick ~ it’s another miscarriage ~ you are definitely in the right job ~ don’t you ever plan another birthday party at our house again, you fucking Bitch, I don’t give a shit if there’s no power anywhere else in town!! ~ well I finally got the call I knew would come one day…your grandmother died this morning ~ you knew i was like this when you met me and i’m not changing…why don’t you just get the fuck out ~ You are beautiful… ~I never thought you’d leave me for someone else ~ yes, you can leave your family heirlooms here until you have a place to put them ~ I lied, i changed the locks and you are getting NOTHING back ~ I’m going to sell them ~ i’m taking our daughter and i’m not bringing her back ~ we don’t even know what to say to you ~ He’s gone…grandpa is gone ~ I applied for a gun permit…there better be no public record of that restraining order or there will be trouble ~ you’re a great friend ~ you’re such a good mom ~ we would like you to adopt our baby ~ we’re going to have to lay you off ~ IT’S A BOY!!! ~ You can take him home today ~ can we have more time before we sign the papers? ~ the waiting period has passed ~ your adoption is final, congratulations, you have a SON! ~ you have been approved for food stamps ~ you are over qualified ~ you are over qualified ~ are you adopting a crack baby? ~ you are over qualified ~ Your son was your brother in a past life and he has found you again ~ hey Melissa, would you like to go into private practice with our office? ~ your mother is dying ~ you have a little head bleed ~ we will be admitting you so you can see the neuro-surgeon ~ there is a lesion on your brain, we need to find out what it is ~ i have good news, it’s NOT cancer ~ Exam Score: PASS ~ We’re going to drill four holes in your skull and screw a crown into your head so you can’t move it during the procedure…you will have to be awake for this…~
I began to process all the information in my head. I have accomplished much…survived much…been damn lucky on many counts, but as tears filled my eyes my words to Bard were “I don’t think I can do this”. I also knew that if I have another brain bleed which brings on a stroke or worse, I will curse myself for not going through with it. I tried to envision myself finding the courage to go through with it. Dr. Buatti entered the room, introduced himself and said “How are you?”. I replied through tears, “I was better before “screws in my skull”. He held a hand in the air, shook his head and said these words:
I am not going to recommend that.
And just like that, my life changed again.
And the next part of the story went something like: With the type of hemangioma you have, there is a 1% chance per year that it will bleed. We will do another MRI in two months and continue to monitor it from there.
And I breathed again from those words. Just words. There is an old saying about sticks and stones hurting but words can’t. I disagree. Words change everything. I now know that the story is never over, at least that’s what I tell my therapy clients. The story can change at any time. Just wait for the next words; the next chapter. All of the significant words above changed me somehow. They are still with me. They moved me in a certain direction. When you hear words that may mean your life could be altered from this moment on, you look at the world through different lenses. You take things more seriously. You take people more seriously. Everything becomes much more real. No more shyness. No more waiting. You move. Game on. Just do it.
This is what I’ve learned in my first (almost) 50 years. In the next 50 I will use my own words more carefully, lovingly, compassionately. I will cherish the first words my children say. They are golden symbols of their own lives. I will consciously model and teach my children to choose kind words, wise words, and to use their intuition about the words of others. I will be conscious of my words and the energy I place upon them.
If there are any words that must NOT go unsaid it would be that I love my children with every cell of my body and with every breath I take. But they know that.