Fragile Bravery

Erin Britt essays

Share Mamalode Share Mamalode

I write this so I will never forget, though, I don't think that is possible.

I write this because I know I'm not alone.

I write this because I'm afraid.

I write this in hopes of letting go of some of the fear so that full, deep breaths will replace the shallow ones I'm having now.

I write this because that's what I do.

I write…

For a few off days, due to snowy weather, something more felt off, but I wasn't taking the time to specifically place it. I was busy and lazy in the offness. A few days rolled past the ones before. But then like an alarm, there it was, and I was jolted to sit up and pay attention. The thing that felt off was a strange tenderness, a soreness. Early morning in the dark before my eyes could focus, before I could think, my hand instinctively reached for the spot. All I could think was, What the hell? This can not be. I cupped my breast in my hand and gave myself a really quick self exam. And there it was. A lump. I checked again. And again. And at least 15 more agains, but yes, a definite lump.

So after a few minutes, I shoved any negative thoughts I had into the back of my mind. I went right back to, that didn't just happen. I went on with my morning. I put my normal happy mom face on and took the kids to school. I forced myself to think that it's probably nothing serious. I noticed I wasn't breathing normally. My breaths were coming in short, panicked, silent pants. Which is what instinctively happens if I'm really nervous about something. When I was back at the house alone I called a friend. Then I called a doctor. Then I cried.

Flashes of a slide show, focused on one thing, started playing out uncontrollably in my mind. My kids. My loves. My heart. I haven't told them everything I want to tell them. I haven't taught them everything I want to teach them. I haven't hugged them enough yet. I haven't kissed them enough yet. We haven't talked enough yet. I haven't told them good night enough times. Or good morning. I need to tell them that I love them, every single day and forever. I haven't laughed at all of the funny things they will say. I haven't seen them reach their goals. When I kiss them on the top of their heads I always breathe in the smell of their hair; I haven't done that enough yet. I need to breathe them in. They haven't gotten on my nerves enough yet. There's too much life to be lived and enjoyed and felt. I want to feel the pulse of life with them. They are my life. I can't leave them. There will be fears to overcome. There will be fevers to cool. Upset stomachs to calm. Accomplishments to celebrate. I haven't watched them grow enough. I haven't heard all of their songs yet. Haven't seen all of their smiles. I can't leave them. I haven't done everything yet.

I can't leave them, but there is a primal, feral fear welling up from deep inside. There are facts and statistics that warrant that fear. And I am afraid.

I imagine that when any woman discovers a knot in her breast there would be a moment of withdrawal from reality. A moment of numbness. A moment of doubt. A moment of fragile bravery. A moment of denial. A moment of being blindingly stunned as you find your way through your days until you know. But then, ultimately, there comes the fear. And until you have the answer to the question—Is it cancer or is it not?—you just keep the brave face on and you keep moving forward until you know. I can't say what happens after that. I'm not there. I'm only here. This is where I am. I'm in those first unknown moments.

I've gone to the internet for more information about it and I'm going to remain hopeful that it is a cyst. I have to maintain normal breaths until Thursday's appointment.

About the Author

Erin Britt

Share Mamalode Share Mamalode
Facebook Comments