Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

Answer The Phone


The other side of the taffy pull. 

(See this post if that makes no sense to you.)

 

It’s enough to make a girl want to never answer her phone again.

 

It was Indiana University calling.  This is nothing new.  Our kids frequently participate in research studies through the Psychology Department and are invited to do more.

I recognized the woman on the phone.  She was the lead researcher for a study my son had gone through a few months ago and a professor at the university.  That particular study was one in which the participants got an MRI.  (Our son was hesitant at first but got a kick afterwards when he got a $25 gift card to Target and got to see pictures of his brain!)

I was washing a dish while she talked.  She asked how our son was doing and thanked us for our participation in the studies.  I finished the last dish while she talked about his most recent study with the MRI.  I had just turned off the water when I caught the last part of her sentence,

 

“…we found something.”

 

My mind shut off and my body went on autopilot.  I knew I had to find a place to sit down.  I recall the hallway.

…protocol states we send the image to a radiologist

 then the edge of the bed,

 “..so we just got his report back today”

 and the weight of my own body, ……the weight.  The wait.

 

“He has a cyst near his brain.”

  

I’ll spare you the details.  If your heart sunk into your stomach and then fell to through your feet when you read that, I don’t need to share the details.  If it didn’t, any details I share of what happened next won’t come close to explaining my experience.

 

My heart has returned to its proper home in the past few days and, thankfully, I can breathe again.  Allow me to extend the same courtesy to you:

 

Our son has an Arachnoid Cyst.  Apparently this is fairly common.  He has no symptoms and, unless it grows, he can expect not to have any.  Without his participation in the MRI study we might never have known it was there.  He is just carrying a fluid-filled sac in his skull near the base of his brain.  As I understand it in our current stage of online research and multitudes of doctor-conversations, we will just monitor the cyst via  a new scan every couple of years to make sure it isn’t growing.  Otherwise, there is nothing about which we should be concerned. 

The End.

 

Except that isn’t the end, is it?

In tales that are told, The End is when the book pages run out, the credits roll, or the curtains close. That reality ends.    

I wouldn’t have shared this story with you had I just wanted to tell you a tale that gets nicely wrapped up with two simple words.

I have tried for nearly two hours to determine what words to use, then, to wrap it up.  If two simple words won’t work, two hundred won’t do it either. 

 

So instead of trying to wrap this up, I decided to open it up.  I extend to you a few invitations.

 

 

I invite you to practice being grateful.

After I had a few hours to process the information after the initial call from the university, the irony that this coincided with Gratitude Week (in the Wild Elephant Project) hit me.

As I hugged my son after he got off the school bus that day, tears filling every cavity in my head but not yet to my eyes, I WAS GRATTIUDE.

I don’t mean I was grateful.  I mean every cell of who “I” am was pure gratitude.  There is a chasm of difference between feeling grateful for my son when I sent him off to school that morning and the gratitude I became as I watched my baby boy hopping down the street towards our house after school.

 

I invite you to practice being aware.  There is so much more than what we can see.  There are so many more perspectives than those that we choose to see.

That little boy who got on the school bus and the one who got off was the same person.  I simply saw him differently.  My precious son, that black hole on the MRI, the baby I held in my arms, the very young man bounding off the school bus, the scruffy hair that needs a bit of a cut…  I felt like I was seeing so much.  And yet, I was only seeing what was always there.   

 

I invite you to practice just being.

We might be able to hold awareness of the suffering and joys of billions of beings or the many facets of suffering of even one while on the meditation cushion. (Might.)  But this would certainly get overwhelming while trying to navigate through rush-hour traffic. 

We can hone in this awareness through mindful existence, through dropping into our bodies, through intimate connection with what falls into our attention in this moment.  No judgment.  Just breath.  Just my son’s description of the school day.  Just the traffic.  Just being.

 

With that, I leave us to our stories

and a wish that we always find the strength to answer the phone.