I worked for a warm and intelligent Dean of a medical school that once told me, “You never want to be in the hospital, it’s where the sick people are.” TRUTH. Hospital waiting rooms should come with Silkwood showers and cocktails. Truly.
The other thing that comes with hospital waiting rooms is time. And, if you’re left alone for a short time, that extra time begets thoughts you really just tried to avoid for awhile while all the prep for said waiting room was happening that week before.
But, inevitably, they show up and poke at you. Reality has sharp claws.
Reality is that anesthesia has risks. Surgeries have risks. And risks can mean certain outcomes that no one wants to think about – until time pokes at you.
So, I thought about them. A little.
(Everything is fine so far. Let’s exhale just a bit now.)
I knew that, at the time, something catastrophic could have happened – and I thought about it. I hated that I thought about it. I was breathless realizing that I’d have to sit the kids down and have the worst conversation of their lives. I stood in the middle of that pain for about a nanosecond before I couldn’t any longer and sent a silent prayer out to all the parents who have had to live that reality in that moment and all the moments after that.
But, I realized something. My mom’s illness years ago taught me I could stand on my own two feet as an actual, married, adult grown-up (who knew?). This brief moment today taught me something a little different.
Should something catastrophic have happened, I would be okay. Maybe not Day One or Day One Hundred, but I would. I wouldn’t have a choice. Sure there would be grief and sadness and a rug ripped out from under any semblance of life I know, but there are kids – and they would be tiny, broken souls.
And so, I would be okay – so that they might be one day.
All of this is over-simplifying something horrific, obviously, but it was nice to have a moment of clarity, gain some perspective and empathy, and to be reminded that you have it within you to do hard things.
I’m thankful I don’t have to right now, but I’m also thankful that I could.