A few days ago I posted to facebook a list of sixteen memories with my son. One for each of his sixteen years. In many ways it has been more wonderful, more rewarding than my nineteen year old self could have imagined. I wrote in his birthday card “You made my life.” I meant it. But today I considered the darker side of those sixteen years. Because along with my gorgeous child came an avalanche of anxiety, and I have spent his lifetime clawing my way out from beneath the rubble.
There have been moments when this has seemed a hopeless task, and others when I could see the light. Still others when I lay down on the job and laughed at the absurdity of it all. And those moments may have been the most healing of all. So without further ado, here is my list of memories with anxiety, for it has been my near constant companion these past sixteen years.
- When you and I visited that doctor in Singapore for the third day in a row, insisting again that my pink and tender ingrown toenail had turned gangrenous.
- When we sat across from the other doctor at Mount Elizabeth Hospital and argued that my stress headache was meningitis.
- When we were so afraid of the flight home that we openly sobbed upon takeoff and then experienced liquid diarrhea for the duration of the twenty six hour journey. On the long haul flight our travel companion was a gentleman equally afraid to fly. He explained that he was, in fact, on a separate flight from his wife that day in case the plane went down, leaving their children orphaned.
- Panic attacks at home! Alone! With tiny babies!
- When we couldn’t look at our foot for six straight weeks because toe cancer.
- When we went to the doctor for that bump behind our ear and he informed us that it was part of our skull.
- When we became convinced that there was a stalker outside the house, and barricaded the doors with furniture. We stayed vigilant throughout the night with rented movies and a chocolate stash. And an axe.
- All the times we have gone to the emergency room thinking we were having a heart attack.
- Those days when we used to go to the grocery store for the week’s foo,d and then return home to dump it directly in the trash. Because e coli.
- When we tossed that entire mac and cheese dinner because we had cut our finger chopping the onions, and were afraid that we might give everyone a blood borne disease. Like HIV. We do not have HIV.
- All those times we turned the car around to make sure that the bump we felt in the road was not, in fact, a body.
- That time Andy went to the bathroom, and we couldn’t find him, and he didn’t answer when we called out, and we panicked that he might not be real.
- The meaning of the universe. We won’t speak of it further.
- Panic attacks in public places!
- That time the cat missed his vaccinations and then scratched Cleo and we googled a bunch and found out that rabies can lay dormant for decades in some cases, and we became convinced we had killed our daughter. Remember that documentary about that girl with rabies? Why did we watch that?
- All the times we put a smile on it and got shit done anyway. Because we are tough as nails.