It’s the day after I’ve had surgery to remove a spot of skin cancer on one side of my nose.
I lie in bed, holding an icepack to my right eye, the incision down the side of my nose is throbbing. One, two, three, four… Each of the throbs so distinct I can count them.
I’ve been lying on my left side for a while–in order to avoid the other side of my face covered in bandages. But by now I’ve been on the same side for too long. I try to roll over, but moving hurts my face too much. So I decide to stay put and deal with it. I’m trapped.
As I lay there, I can’t help brainstorming a list of all the things I could have been doing today. Teaching a workshop, going for a bike ride, grocery shopping, playing with my kids, doing laundry, reading a book.
My face hurts so much that I can’t even read a book. My vision is still blurry from the nerve blocker the doctors used under one of my eyes.
I could listen to an audiobook, I think, optimistically. I begin to sit up, to reach for my phone and some headphones. The blood rushes straight to the most painful spots on my face, against the rules of gravity, and I instantly decide it isn’t worth the pain and I lie back down.
Hours pass. I drift in and out of sleep. Occasionally I wake myself up–I accidentally roll over in my sleep at one point, the whole surgery side smooshing into my pillow without warning, much to my agony.
Eventually the sun begins to fade. I start to feel bad for myself. Why does everything have to happen to me? I think.
But as the sunlight begins to fade, I can hear Lily, Jackson, and my husband downstairs in the kitchen, coming home from a trip to the grocery store. Lily’s voice is high and animated, telling a story about something that happened at recess. Jackson is making sound effects, oblivious to his big sister’s story; he’s playing pirates–I can tell by listening. I can hear Brinton clanging pots and pans, cooking macaroni and cheese for the kids, I think. I smile (it hurts) picturing the three of them, going about their business, together, but separately.
Suddenly Jackson is at the foot of the bed with me. He moves closer to me, and gently puts his chubby three year old hand on my mine. “Hi Mama,” he says. “Are you feeling better now?” His voice is so hopeful, I can’t say anything other than, “Yes, hon, I do feel better now that you’re here.” And it’s true.
“I love you mama,” he says gently.
“I love you too.” I say. “I love you too.”