The Night Before an Infusion

Wonder-woman, a female heroine, strong, confident, determined. I'd been enamored with her since the 1980s when I'd perch next to my dad and watch old reruns of Lynda Carter raise her pumped fists and watch bullets ricochet off of her cuffs.

"I want to be her," I'd announced as I jumped off of the couch and ran around the house fighting injustice. Sure enough the very next day, my MacGyver of a father created cuffs that I could put on.

I've felt like Wonder-woman all my life, the hero-complex setting in early, until recently.  This path Ive been walking has me quivering in the darkness like a kid reacts when there is thunder and lighting outdoors. What I hadn't realized was, that I had to relearn how to stand tall and "fight like a woman."

Recently, my brother called me and asked, "Can you write a piece about the night before the storm?"

"What?" I asked.

"You know, the night before you go in for an infusion? What's it like? Mentally? Emotionally? I want to read about that."

"Fair enough," I said and added, "it will be a couple of weeks, but I did say that I was willing to write about whatever people wanted to hear."

Meanwhile, the fighter who was slowly emerging stepped back into the shadows and the demon in my head started raging, "You know you can't write about this, you know it's too much, you know you're only pretending to be strong when in reality you are weak!"

Doubt springs forth that day before. My reality-the kids, my husband, our life begins to slip away. I try to hold on, but it almost feels as though my hands are oily and there is nowhere to securely grab onto the fabric of life.

Often we go to church, where I thank God for the current day and know that in less than twenty-four hours I will be asked to carry the cross once more as they pump poison into my veins.  And once that process starts, I won't be able to write or think. I won't be able to talk or play. I will sit in a chair like a heap of walnuts between the living world and the dead.

During those moments I think of people that are in high security jails, locked up in isolation and envy them. Although they are in isolation, they are the fortunate ones for what I am going through is a true form of torture.  I envy their ability to feel emotions, to eat, to sit up, and walk without fearing that they will fall. I envy their ability to read and think and hold a conversation even if it's not one I'd care to be a part of.

The night before an infusion and the beginning of a fourteen day drug treatment, I cry. I lock myself in our bedroom and I beg my husband, "Please, I don't want to do this again. I can't do this again. Please, please, I've done enough, let me just shirk this one off. Please don't make me go!"

He holds me and listens to my rants, not sure how he deals with the fact that I shatter into a thousand shards every three weeks.

"You're almost done," he assures, "then we can slowly claim life back. Imagine Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland, and all the other places you still want to explore and hold on."

I don't know how he is able to hold this same conversation with me over and over again, but he does.

He wipes my tears away and stands strong, my boulder of a husband, as I crumble.

"What if I can't break through this time?" I ask. My biggest fear is this, being stuck in a shell with random thoughts that make no sense.

"What if it becomes the new orange? What if I'm here but not here and it lasts forever?"

The storm rages inside. Images of death cross my mind, lynchings, shootings, bombs blowing up buildings, slowly bleeding out, and never being able to see another day and say, "Wow, I am blessed to be alive!"

These are the thoughts that cross my mind! These are the companions I spend the night with before I awaken the next morning, plaster a smile on my face and pretend I am going to another party.

"Mom, I want to come to the party too," Ely said one day.

I cringed, but smiled.

"Never boo, never. I don't want you anywhere near this party. I want you eating healthy, living a long life, and making a difference in the world."

"Like you?"

"Me?" I ask.

"Yes mom, you are Wonder Woman!" My eldest chimed in. "It doesn't matter what comes at you, you're able to raise your fists and it ricochets off."

The younger one thinks for a moment and exclaims, "Harmon is right. You are strong and do good in the world to get rid of hate."

"I remember when you were just released from the hospital. You could barely sit up.  I was wheeling you out of your post-operation visit and you made me stop. You had seen this woman in a chair and her credit card and license had fallen out of her purse and was beneath her. You were in pain and barely sitting up mom, and yet you made me stop the wheelchair to talk to her to tell her that her cards were beneath her. If you could, you would have gotten on the ground and got it for her too," my eldest said.

"That makes me Wonder-woman?"

"Yah mom, you amaze me. You didn't have to to do all that, but you did because you are you and this world needs you. You have a purpose!"

"I should take you to more moves that center around girl empowerment, I am liking this," I claimed excitedly.

They both ran toward me yelling, "I hugged mom first!"

Fortunately, I've gone through all eight chemo treatments thus far. Eight times the darkness washed over me, eight times the love of my family and friends pulled me out of the murk and reminded of the power that resided within. I've also come to realize that the power of my boys will give me the reason needed to live for they need to see Wonder-woman in order to grow up and become amazing Super Heroes themselves!

Thanks bro, for forcing me to face my darkness and realize that even that is surmountable. Thank you for bearing with me through the storm! Couldn't have done it without you and your amazing family.

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Till next week, go live, thrive, have fun and do great things!

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