When Fear and Joy Mingle Together

This past week was a busy one complete with two birthdays. There were birthday presents to buy, birthday parties to organize and birthday meals and cakes to make. And there was much joy. Joy over receiving their presents and spending their days with their friends.

Unfortunately, though, fear was worming its way through the joy.

It started last Monday night at exactly 6:41 pm (funny how, in times of pain, time is frozen in one’s mind) when the pain slammed hard into me. The wave of pain in my stomach caused my breath to stop for a moment. It soon became apparent that this pain was here for the long haul. It was in the area of my belly button, the beginning spot for appendicitis. In between waves of pain, I decided that I should tell the kids in case I would have to go to the hospital in the middle of the night.

I told them about the pain in a matter of fact tone of voice, keeping my voice as even as I could as the pain continued to take my breath away and, by this time, the nausea was full on and the fever was beginning to take hold. I tried so hard to make this a no big deal thing.

I tried so hard.

But it didn’t matter. Experience trumps trying hard.

As I uttered the words, I could see the shade of fear darken their eyes. Even though the word ‘appendix’ came out of my mouth, the word ‘cancer’ ran through their heads. It doesn’t matter that our experience was five years ago. It doesn’t matter that the experience wasn’t as scary as it could have been. Nothing matters except that cancer is part of our experience now and whenever I get sick cancer rears its nasty head.

As I laid on my bed dealing with the pain, my kids sat vigil on the floor beside me. They played on the floor, periodically asking how I was feeling and if they could get me anything.

After about four hours, the pain lessened and moved to my right side. I could now breathe, the nausea was still there but the fear lessened as well. This wasn’t appendicitis after all. My kids went to bed with a sigh of relief but the fear was still there because we didn’t know the cause of the pain.

The rest of the week saw doctor’s appointments, tests and an ultrasound. Every time I stepped in the door, three kids ran to see how everything went and if we knew what name was given to the pain. We won’t know the results of the tests until this week some time.

This past week, though, has been such a dichotomy to me. There has been such joy over the lives of two special people yet, throughout that joy, fear has wormed it’s way in. I have seen the wisps of fear curling its way through the joy. I am happy that my kids were still able to enjoy their birthdays and their parties but it makes me sad that it was darkened just a tad. I wish it could have been just pure joy–no mingling with fear. Just joy.

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