This I Believe

Gayle - Richmond, Texas
Entered on February 25, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: setbacks

I have a brain tumor, and I’ve just found out it has to be removed. It’s not malignant, but an insipid little mass, unworthy of notice, really, that chose to grow in an unfortunate location. And I’m scared.

It’s funny, as I’ve always heard that the heart is the soul and the owner of what defines a person. I think this cannot be true, or else not completely true, because without the brain the heart is just another organ prolonging life. I fear not being the same definition of Gayle that I was before they plug my head like a watermelon, pop out the unnecessary, and close me up again to heal. The heart is still beating, but the head has been compromised.

I fear I won’t be funny. Let my heart try to make up a joke or decide to tickle my husband under the arm until he begs me to stop. Or what if I don’t enjoy creating crazy costumes or wearing too much junk jewelry? Or maybe my laugh won’t come as easily and I won’t appreciate the obvious humor that surrounds everyday living.

I fear I won’t be smart. Not that I was a genius before, but being confused and not comprehending the obvious would be a frightening future for me and my family. And a burden. What if I can’t count out change for a soda machine or measure ingredients for meatloaf? Or what if I’m not able to decide which candidate is the least offensive in the yearly elections?

I fear I won’t be productive. My passion for my chosen charities is a drive that is good for them as well as for me. It gives me the satisfaction of contributing to something and helps to keep me active. I feel needed by total strangers that send me form letters of appreciation for my unselfish actions. What if I lose that giving nature and become ambivalent towards charity? How would they proceed on without me?

I fear I won’t be active. My head is what tells me to get up in the morning, get myself going and do something with the eight or so hours I’ve been given. When I think of what life would be like with no motivation to get about, it scares and disgusts me. Having always been the overactive type, I find the prospect of being sedentary very ominous and life changing. Who’s going to separate the recycle into plastic, paper and aluminum bins? Who will mistakenly pull up plants that were cleverly disguised as weeds if not me?

What if I lose my religion? Will God abandon someone that cannot actively participate, or is unable to still read the scriptures? What happens when prayers cease? Do others take up the job for me? Will I be able to live a peaceful and strong life without comprehending the doctrine and trying to implement it every day?

I fear I won’t be attractive. At 57, it takes a lot of time to just look good, much less great, and I am just arrogant enough to want to have people exclaim, “You don’t look your age!” occasionally. My head has to remember to have my hair colored when the roots are obvious. Everyone knows that one applies the blush only to the apples of the cheeks, but if the brain forgets this, I could be the next cosmetic “What Not To Do” poster child. What if, oh, HORRORS, I suddenly started to prefer beige clothing, as it makes my complexion go completely sallow instantaneously! Who will tell me if I can’t tell myself?

But most of all, what if I cannot love? Will life be life without yearning to hear my husband’s quiet snore when I lie awake as he sleeps? What if I cannot feel the compassion for each small crisis in my children’s life that I know will mean nothing in the total score for them at the end of their day? My mother had given up the chore of taking care of me long ago. What if she regains that job at 79 and I can’t look into her eyes and tell her she is my rock? Or what if my head no longer lets me smile at just the sound of the voices of each of them? And what if I am unable to comprehend all that they feel for me? Does life exist at that point?

When my surgery is over, I’ll reread this. Some things will make me smile, and some will make me cry. I will hopefully be able to joyously hit the delete button and remove these feelings and thoughts from my computer and get on with my life, that, before all of this, I took for granted.