In theatre, art, literature, there is something called the “suspension of disbelief.” It’s when an action occurs in the plot that is fantastical, non-realistic, or unbelievably extraordinary and yet, we as an audience or reader believe it anyway or accept it to be true. We do it all the time when reading science fiction. Have you ever gone to a magic show and seen a woman being cut in half? Was she really cut in half? Of course not but we squirm anyway and squeal in fear. We see the saw and we believe it is happening. What about the movie Speed? Never in a million years would a bus be able to maintain a perfect 60 miles an hour in an urban setting. For real. Try it in NY sometime. Yet, we watch it and we believe it.
For the last month, my life has seemed like a work of fiction. It seems fantastical, non-realistic, unbelievably extraordinary that I could have breast cancer at age 37, when I have taken care of my body, while I am taking care of a young child. My life does not seem real. Sometimes I get that feeling like I am in a bubble, my head spins and I can’t quite decipher what is real and what is imagination. Like I am watching someone else’s life from the outside. I have had to suspend my disbelief to process what is not a great work of fiction but what is my real life.
Tomorrow is the day I have to stop pretending that this is not really happening. I have to get up at 5:00am, brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, gently (oh so gently) touch my baby’s back while he sleeps and feel his body rise and fall with every inhale and exhale as my temporary goodbye, walk out the door, get in the car, drive to the hospital, check in, get undressed, get into a hospital gown, get rolled into an OR, beg the doctor to make sure she gets everything, go to sleep, and wake up mutilated. Tomorrow, the body that has betrayed me will be foreign to me. Unrecognizable. Scarred. Bloody. Maimed.
The clock is ticking down. The time to face reality and believe that this is my life, is here. I’m not ready.