Ten years ago, on the auspicious date of 9-9-99, I was supposed to leave Maryland for the west coast. Unfortunately, my trip was delayed by the smallest of obstacles. Here’s what I wrote back then, on September 12th:
I’m packing. Tomorrow morning, assuming I haven’t gone completely insane, I’m leaving for LA with a car full of stuff, my cat Zar, and all the chutzpah I can muster. Things got a little hectic here during the last week. Let me explain. No, there is no time. Let me sum-up.
The LUMP. I found a lump in my breast. I went to the doctor, like a good little girl. They sent me to get a sonogram. The sonogram people sent me to a surgeon for a biopsy. I ended up getting the little sucker removed. The doctor assures me that it’s totally benign, but I’ll know for sure on Thursday when I call for the test results.
This seems straight forward. Insert about a million phones calls to various doctors and insurance people, and a half-dozen bouts of crying. And a delayed trip. And now a bunch of irritating stitches and a horribly itchy bandage. And a scar, and some extremely unattractive bruising.
But, I’m packing. Tomorrow, I will leave Maryland behind, along with a piece of myself — emotionally, metaphorically, and literally. (Sorry, but bad jokes have become a mainstay of mine lately.) I miss reading journals and sharing in other people’s lives. I hope you’re all doing well, and I can’t wait to rejoin you once I reach LA and whatever is waiting for me there.
Every September 9th, I can’t help but remember the lumpectomy. I was in such a terrible place in my life — at the start of a divorce, reeling from the loss of friends and the life I’d built, ready to give up everything I owned except my cat and my computer. I was about to drive across the country, about to put distance between myself and the only life I’d known.
In a way, I’m grateful to that stupid lump. Without it, I think I might have lost these memories to the haze of chaos. The lump scare is a searing beacon, utterly unforgettable. I remember everything about the operation, every physical sensation, every whispered prayer. I remember crying under a tree outside the doctor’s office when it was over.
At least, after ten years, I haven’t forgotten how lucky I am. How lucky that the lump was benign, how lucky that I was free to follow the path I’d chosen for myself.