“Fluff, what does ‘gullible’ mean?” Chip asks her big sister.
“It’s a swear word!” Fluff sounds shocked. “You mustn’t say it!”
Chip looks at her sister. “It isn’t.”
“It is!” Fluff is insistent, although she is smiling. Chip is unconvinced.
“Hmm?” I look up.
“What does ‘gullible’ mean? Fluff says it’s a swear word.”
“It’s not swearing.” I pause. “There’s no such word, Chip.”
“Really? Fluff said it was a swear word!”
“No, it’s not a swear word.”
Two weeks later we are waiting in the hospital for me to see the breast specialist about a lump in my *breast. It is the same hospital in which we visited my dear mother-in-law before she died three weeks prior. Emotions hang raw in the air.
I am sitting with my new crochet project and Chip is quietly reading. She is, like her mother, addicted to stories.Suddenly she jumps up and runs over to me, her index finger against a word on the page.
“See, Mummy!” She cries, “It is a word!”
I look at the page to see what she is pointing at. I smile up at her and all of a sudden she gets it and looks at me with dismay, then disapproval and then amusement. There is a gleam in her eyes that I know means she is thinking of a way to get me back (the girls and I love jokes, but Daddy and Prince not so much, so we don’t play jokes on them). Prince wants to know what was funny and so I explain to him, several times, until he understands and grins. A difficult day becomes a little lighter.
*It was just a large cyst, which was drained with an enormous needle. I am prone to them, apparently.
My word I was grateful that it was only a cyst! Not because we wouldn’t have somehow dealt with/struggled through any eventuality (because who has a choice in these things?), but because the last few months have been really hard. This non-cancer-scare actually felt like a bit of a turning point for me. It’s not just the grief of losing someone you love that can cause distress after the event, but the weeks leading up to death during which a loved one is suffering. I had become consumed by my mother-in-law’s suffering. I couldn’t bear to see her like that. I researched strokes and vascular dementia and end of life care, etc., etc., just to try to find some answers that would limit her intense distress. I came up with very little, to be honest. I just wanted to make her feel better. She was clearly distraught and in pain. I eventually realised that ‘the Lord gives and the Lord takes away’ and there was not one thing I could do about it either way, except be there for my husband, and pray. I don’t think I did a very good job of either.
Sometimes a non-scare can give you a bit of perspective.