This will only take a second, she assured me. But then she paused. And then she tilted her head sideways.
A few hours later and I was standing at the ultrasound office, paper in hand.
"Lump 12:00" written across the top.
The sweet old lady at the front desk apologized and said the person who does the breast ultrasounds had to leave for the day. I'd have to come back tomorrow morning. My Birthday.
All last night I couldn't sleep. I just kept starring at Thomas and the kids sleeping. I kept smelling their foreheads and kissing the tips of their noses. I wasn't scared, I was grateful.
This morning, wearing nothing but a too-big blue hospital robe, perched on the medical table, the ultrasonographer asked if I was afraid. To my left a plastic brochure-holder presented pamphlets on choosing the perfect wig during chemo.
"Honestly, not really." I answered.
"During these times, some women start to panic and think about regrets and life decisions. It can be a lot," she continued.
"Hmmm. Not me. I don't have any regrets," I assured her.
I scanned myself for regrets. Thomas and I have dedicated our entire lives to each other, our little family, and a life filled with art and nature. We set down a lust for materialism and chased, instead, after abundance of the heart. We pointed our sacred compass in the direction of mud pies and kite flying and collecting snail shells after sunset with flashlights. Regrets? I couldn't think of any.
After she was done imaging my breast, she left the room to share with the doctor. Moments later, she returned and said she needed to do it again. Something looked a little funny and they wanted to take a closer look.
In that instant it hit me. My book.
"Are you OK?" she asked again.
"I'm, yes, I'm OK."
She scanned my breast again, clicking on the machine, zooming in, pushing down hard, harder.
She handed me a three-year-old US Weekly magazine and left the room again. I looked down at the gossip soaked pages and wondered if there was a pen anywhere in the room. Suddenly, there were no road blocks. I simply had to get it out. Suddenly, nothing else mattered.
After a handful of minutes the door opened, "You can get dressed! It's nothing! You are all clear!"
When I walked into the waiting room and saw my little family sitting there, giggling and chatting, waiting for me, I burst into tears. The weight of it all, pouring out.
Thomas came rushing over, terrified, and I could barely speak. "No, no, no," I whispered, "Tears of joy. Tears of joy."
We all stood there for a few minutes, crying and hugging.
My Birthdays have always been overwhelming. I think about my biological lineage. I wonder if they remember that I was born on this day; or if they even remember if I was born at all. I think about Charlotte, the baby Thomas and I said goodbye to. I remember the night of my 21st Birthday, finding out that I was pregnant with Braedon.
And this year, the heaviness in my heart is palpable. The reminder that time is an illusion, and the things that whisper to us, and rattle our bones when we sleep, those are the things we really can't ignore.
Next week, I am going to release a kickstarter project that I have been working on for over three years. Not because it took three years, but because until this morning, while waiting for my results, with the buzz of the air conditioning and the shuffle of nurses' feet outside the door, and the gown sticking to my jelly-covered sore breast... Until then, I thought I had time.
(if you want to make sure you don't miss the announcement, click here)