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Self-portrait of my right eye, nearly six years after surgery

At Peace
And so the waiting. The pathologist was on vacation; it would be two weeks before I’d get the report on my eye. In the meantime, I was still going back and forth to the Clinic for post-operative appointments—both for my eye and for my thyroid surgery.

The surgeon who operated on my neck was pleased with how well I was healing. She did a bit of clean-up around the incision, and it was barely noticeable. I joked that I’d just wear a lot of jewelry around my neck, but in truth it didn’t look as though it was going to require much camouflage at all. Around this time D sent another email update to my friends and family revealing new information from the thyroid pathology report:

… On the down side, when I looked at the written report I found that the thyroid malignancy was much larger than I had been told: It was 0.7 cm in diameter, not 0.07 cm, and the threshold for follow-up chemotherapy is typically 1.0 cm. Marci and her endocrinologist will have to consider the best course of action.

As they say, size matters.

This gave me quite a lot to think about. I did most of my thinking and reflecting at night, since I slept through much of the day to avoid the sunlight. When I came downstairs to rest, my preferred spot was a chaise lounge in a corner of my living room, with windows on both sides, which is why I turned to it at night. Nestled there in my cocoon of darkness, I prayed, of course. I might even have engaged in some bargaining with God. (It’s strange I don’t remember those negotiations.) But what I do remember, distinctly, was making my peace with death.

I think the fact that so much darkness surrounded me—I slept during the day and rested at night in the dark—helped me to accept my mortality. I didn’t want to die—that would not have been my first choice—but it didn’t seem frightening to me. There was something relaxing about the prospect. No longer being in pain seemed like a good trade-off to me. And being enfolded in the arms of a loving God. Just letting go and letting be…

I believed in God. I still do. In fact, there never has been a time when I doubted His existence. It’s easy to say that this was merely the indoctrination I’d received through years of Catholic schooling, but I knew there had to be more to it than dogma. Throughout all the turbulence of my life—my father dying when I was 13, experiencing a traumatic medical crisis at 21, losing my mother to Alzheimer’s, going through a divorce—I never felt as though I was utterly alone—even during the times when I really was alone. I always sensed something stronger than me was holding me up.

I had survived this long, hadn’t I? I had managed to make a go of things.

Now please don’t get the wrong impression of me. I’m a lackadaisical Christian. More often than not, church on Sunday morning for me has meant coffee and extra time with the newspaper. I admire people who have the discipline to express their faith outwardly and regularly—whatever that faith may be. My approach—my relationship with God, whom I believe is a God of love—has generally been more subdued. And I don’t think that’s wrong.

I’ve made mistakes, broken a few Commandments, but I’ve always felt His forgiveness. And as a result, I’ve tried even harder to be good.

I prayed a lot during this time. I prayed for God to help my son, to keep him safe and strong. More than anything else, my son was what weighed most heavily on my mind: how he would be, how he would manage, if the worst happened.

Although I was no longer a practicing Catholic, a wonderful priest who has known me since I was in high school came to visit me during this time. We spoke about these matters, he took my confession, and he gave me his blessing. I felt at peace.

To be continued …

Part 1: The Baby’s Nightmare
Part 2: The Nightmare Returns
Part 3: Room 101 and the Masquerading Marauder
Part 4: The Eye as Metaphor
Part 5: The Back Story
Part 6: It’s Nature’s Way
Part 7: Help From the Man on the Street
Part 8: A DES Daughter?
Part 9: Speak, Memory
Part 10: The Needle and the Damage Done
Part 11: Can I Get a Discount?
Part 12: A Call During Dinner
Part 13: First There is a Cancer, Then There is no Cancer, Then There Is
Part 14: Through a Glass, Far Too Brightly
Part 15: Anatomy of an Eye Operation

© 2012 Marci Rich
All rights reserved.