Everyone has a right to be private. I, however, am not a particularly private person. I find that by sharing my real stories, my vulnerabilities, my celebrations and discoveries, I make connections, learn and grow. Maybe someone out there is right there with you. Maybe someone out there has some helpful support, advice or a cool opportunity to offer. Maybe I’ve inspired someone out there to try something or go somewhere new, and their life is better for having done it. Maybe someone out there will share a different perspective on something that I will really, really appreciate hearing, or vice versa. From my work, to my home, to my family, to my travels, to my cooking, to my health and fitness, to politics and more, sharing my experiences has brought nothing but good to me.
I crafted an email to family and friends that included the basic details. I still couldn’t quite say the words out loud without breaking down (it got much, much easier to talk about out loud after I gave them the e-version; words flow better for me in writing). My daughter was still at home on summer break for one more week as well, so my goal with emailing was to keep the bulk of the communication on the down-low, rather than spend that week on the phone with dozens of people, while she listened traumatically to the heavy details I was saving for older audiences. I explained all of this in my emails as well, and asked people to be sensitive and discreet around their kids and mine. “Sara is having surgery” is all that needs to be said with young ears around. I asked people to not approach my kids to check in and ask how I’m doing; I knew it would just add to their concern. I posted the same details and requests on my Facebook page.
When I initially shared the news with my kids, I mustered my most casual, “no big deal” voice and said, “You know how my vision and hearing haven’t been that good lately? Well, they figured out what’s causing it. There’s something growing between my ear and my brain, and I will need to have surgery to remove it. Technically it’s a tumor, but it’s not cancerous. I will have to stay in the hospital for a few days because my balance will be messed up afterwards, so they don’t let me come home until they know that I’ll be okay on my own.” They were both looking concerned as I was telling them, but they didn’t freak out. My son said, “The only reason I’m taking this well is because of that bubbly voice you’re using.” My daughter said, “You’re going to get really behind on your emails when you’re in the hospital.” 🙂 So, I considered the delivery a success. I told them the truth and as much as they needed to know for now, and we’d share more after the surgery when we know exactly what we’re dealing with. They don’t need to know all of the scary what-ifs.
Two weeks have now passed, and both kids have been cruising right along in their usual lives without anyone adding to their worries. 🙂 At home we try to keep the mood consistently light and fun for them, and when my husband or I need some time alone to deal with our inevitable heavy emotions, we make the time and go find somewhere private to do that. We sort through logistics over email or when the kids aren’t around. It has been working out very well so far, and the dominant mood in the house has been pretty close to “normal,” and not “stressed” or “worried”. I think that helps us ALL.
I felt a thousand times better once I got all of that pent-up, painful news off my chest! I know that part of feeling better had to do with getting this news out of my system, but the other part was due to the outpouring of love in response to what I had shared. I immediately had a over a hundred messages filled with love and support, and it instantly lifted my spirits to feel how much positive energy was being sent our way. Friends, family and neighbors were quick to offer much-needed logistical and emotional support, like giving rides to my kids before and after school, having them over for sleepovers, delivering meals, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, watering the plants, working in my shop, meeting for a walk, run, drink or dinner, and more. I found thoughtful surprises in my mailbox and received hand-delivered cards and gifts. Every day my spirits were lifted as I felt myself and my family surrounded by more and more love and support. Love is powerful medicine, and I feel so grateful to have such a big dose to bring with me to and from the hospital!
While it is sometimes hard to ask for help, and sometimes hard to say “yes” to offers of help, we have to keep in mind that everyone else we know will likely find themselves in a time of great need at some point down the road, too. When that happens we can be first in line to show up to return the favor, full of love to give and ready to lend a helping hand.