Driving in the Momvan last night my daughter asked me if animals died like people die.
This is a frequent conversation in our home lately, stemming from my rash of hospital stays and influx of relatives and friends helping to care for me and mine.
She wanted to know if animals lost their colons and uterus too. If they stayed in hospital beds, and if their animal families could visit them.
We arrived at our destination, and my son unbuckled and laid his head on my shoulder. He didn't have to say a word, I knew he just needed to be near me. Death talk does that to him.
My husband, the rock as of late, has been shouldering more weight than I can bear to watch. And after discussions of funerals and what I would wish, and wills and advance directives and how he would cope as a widower, I crumbled inside to put such a burden on those I love.
The pit of my stomach hasn't been filled with dread over my health, it's been filled with dread over what my health as done to those around me. It's gnawed at me with a fierceness. I'm the one who should be caring for them, and it's very hard for me to play the role of invalid.
But today, I finally got to lift some of that weight. The specter of death hovering in my daughter's head. The anxiety in my son's mind. The uncertainty in my husband's heart.
The doctor said remission. And in his office I broke down, and he touched my shaking hands, and he assured me Lupus was, indeed, in it's cage, locked.
The long road that started with a hospital stay in August of 2009, the tests at UCLA where I ate radiation, the bowel rest hospital stay, the exploratory surgery, the Mother's Day hospital stay that broke my heart, the colon and gall bladder surgery where my kids were not allowed to see me, the emergency room visit where I cried in anger at the sky because I was again hooked up to tubes and IVs, the total hysterectomy where I mourned my womanhood, and the diagnosis where we stood dumbfounded and planned my death...now, finally...
I feel like I have been given a gift I don't deserve, but my family does. I feel like the world is different in so many ways. I feel like I owe so many people so much... but most of all I owe these people around me the world.
And I will deliver.
Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest