It’s so dark in here. My eyeballs are trembling, their pupils dilating frantically in desperate search for the tiniest spec of light.
But there isn’t any, and I have to accept it: I’m plunged into darkness.
But how did I get here? I’ve been dreading this for so long. Everyone knows what a coward I can be when it comes to confined spaces, and this is the worst of my fears, or maybe it shouldn’t be? Because in the darkness you can’t tell how spacious or enclosed a space is.
But why am I so afraid? Why do I feel like I’m suffocating? I knew this was coming. I knew it the moment the doctor asked me to sit down for the news.
“Didn’t you notice the mole earlier?”
“Then, why didn’t you have it checked out?”
I didn’t answer, although I knew the answer. He thought I didn’t think much of it, but I did. I was just too afraid to face it.
Now as I lie here in the darkness, I know there are bigger things to fear. I just want to get out. No. I want to go back in time; to the time where I could’ve it nipped it all in the bud. God! How much I would give just to hear the doctor say: “It’s a good thing you came now; it’s nothing surgery can’t take care of”
But that wasn’t what he said. And now, months later, I’m here in this dark, bleak, cold hole alone. Oh, how I want to see them again! How I want to hear their voices, stroke their hair and kiss their cheeks! But I’m in here alone, and I know they are outside, praying for me, maybe shedding some tears every now and then.
My mom has always been the strong one. When I told her the news, I expected it to hit her like a thunderbolt out of clear sky. But it didn’t. Instead, she told me I needed to fight with all my power, and therefore I had to stay strong, really strong. She even joked that death might not be the worst thing that could happen, because if I lived I might wish to be dead after she took the time to punish me for not going for a check-up earlier and thus causing myself to go through all that.
But what happened had already happened, and I can’t change it, but I would give anything right now to hear my mother scolding me. Anything at all, but I know she now probably has a lump in her throat, and tears to fight back. Not because she’s ashamed of crying or because she deems it a weakness, but because she knows that this is that last thing the children need to see.
The children. I can almost see their faces and hear their giggles in the pitch darkness. I prepared them well for everything, too well maybe since the youngest one who’s barely four has hopes now that I’ll be going to the heavens to bring him all the gifts he wants. The other two were wearier and it’s hard to reassure them, so I thought it was better to have them know the truth.
This is the truth, a pitch-black hole.
But distraction was a much-needed quick fix. My husband took them out almost every day, and I would insist that he didn’t stay with me during chemo so that he could take them some place to get it off their minds. He was reluctant at first, but then he saw that it was the best choice for everyone. To tell the truth, I didn’t want him to see me in that shape. I couldn’t let him see me collapsing and vomiting and, sometimes, crying. That’s not an image I want him to have of me.
I closed my eyes and tried to remember the sound of his breathing at night. It was my lullaby. I tried to recall his smell, his smile, but suddenly his frown materialized before my eyes. “How could you do this to me? How could you do this to yourself?’
I know he blames himself for not pushing me enough to do an early check-up, and it tears me inside. It tears me that I caused him so much pain, because that’s one thing I never wanted to happen, ever.
How could I be here, in this darkness, without him?
I felt a sudden urge to scream.
I closed my eyes, the darkness was now filled with familiar faces and places. I saw my home, the little sofa in front of the TV, my children laughing hysterically while watching Monsters Inc. for the umpteenth time. I look out the window and I see the garden coming alive with shades of green and white daisies, and I savor the breeze coming my way, filling me with life. Then the door opens and the children run towards their daddy yelling and cheering.
“How was your day?” He would ask. “Anything Special?”
I start to pray. Please let me go back. Please.
I open my eyes. It’s darkness again.
I feel a cold tear on my lips. I close my eyes and pray again. No more wondering. No more questioning how I got here. All I want now is a second chance. Just another chance.
I feel my body moving, I open my eyes hesitantly. It was there, I could see it, literally at the end of the tunnel. I was going towards the light, or maybe light was coming towards me, it didn’t make any difference, because the darkness was gone. My pupils were in shock and my eyes struggled to catch up with all they’ve been missing. Yet, my body was now trembling with anticipation, and soon it would be trembling with joy, and the cold tears of fear and regret would soon be warm with happiness and gratitude, as the voice of the doctor came echoing with words never in my life have I dreamed of hearing.
“The MRI scan is clean. Congratulations, you’re cancer free”