Surviving My Daughter's Surgery

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There's this scene in Pay it Forward when Helen Hunt's character realizes that her son has died on the operating room table. Her knees buckle, the roots of her giving out, and she is lost inside herself as skin meets with tile.

This fate could have easily been mine on Tuesday.

Tuesday was the day that everything logical stopped being logical. It was between the bookends of the first and twenty-fourth hours on this day that time moved beyond my control and reality slithered sharp inside me. My daughter was having surgery.

Photo by Lisa Williams.

She is two. She is blonde and smart and when people look at her, they forget the wrong and hurtful things in their lives. They smile. She gives gifts on a daily basis, a hug when you didn't think you needed one, a sweet kiss when dinner is burning and you've left the clothes to mildew in the washer. Again. She has a mean right hook that meets with your cheek and even in that nanosecond when you wince and absorb the pain with your tongue securely between your teeth, you can't stop loving her because she won't let you.

So three months ago, when her pediatrician found a cyst in her ear I didn't think very much about it. "Probably just an infection. Let's try the drops for two weeks and see what happens." I nodded, knowing full well that yes, it was just an infection because nothing but a small annoyance could bully its way into our lives.

I was wrong.

The cyst was something more so we were referred to an ENT. After a CT scan, several screaming induced appointments to check and clean her ear and days of emotional drainage leaving my husband and I far more worse for the wear, the day of her scheduled surgery had quietly arrived.

She entered it unaware. I entered it aware of everything and nothing at all.  I didn't cry even when she squealed, playing with the toys in the waiting room. I didn't cry even when she drank the "happy juice" before the procedure and something washed over her, a newer, unfeeling version of her former self. Even as they wheeled her away and my husband birthed tears similar to the ones he had the first time he saw her face, I didn't cry. I just kept thinking of my knees buckling, of kissing the tile floor and how I refused to let that be our fate.

In the waiting room I sank into an upholstered chair, gripped a sporadically sipped cup of coffee and counted my heart beats until I saw the doctor's face, smiling.

Tuesday, reality slithered sharp inside me and left me with a grateful heart. My daughter was just fine.  The precedure went wonderfully. She will heal and be the lively version of herself once more.

And knowing I've been given time with her no longer defined by Tuesday's beginning, Tuesday's end? There are not enough tears in the world...

Creative Liar


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