Last Tues., I was at work when Diana called.  She had just returned from getting a mammogram, and the results were not good.  A small spot, and what they referred to as "architectural changes".  Her voice was shaky and she was distracted.  She was going to call a surgeon to schedule the biopsy.  A few minutes later, she called again--the surgeon couldn't see her until Dec. 5th because of the holiday.  Over two weeks of not knowing.  She called another surgeon whose phone was out of order (!).  We talked for a while, and then she had to take Eson to school.

When I got home, we hugged and cried for a while.  And thought about death, and pain, and helplessness.  Diana has always been so strong.  And, of course, she worried about the boys, and about me.  I obligingly told her how inconsiderate and rude she was to think about getting sick at a time like this, and finally raised a small, weak smile.

At 3AM we woke up and held each other and talked for a couple of hours.  I really do believe that when we get sick our unconscious minds are trying to tell us something--there is a message there for us, and if we get the message, we don't have to get the disease.  This is a harsh belief, since it makes us responsible.  And for Diana, responsibility is never far from blame when things aren't perfect.  I have grown deeper with every illness, seen things more in perspective.  Now she has that opportunity.  It's a nasty way to learn, and leaves us scarred, but teaches us lessons we could not learn any other way.

And I can't do it for her.  I can coach, love and support her.  But the message is meant for her alone.

That's the harshest thing of all--that I can't do it for her.

On Wed., she was able to get through to the doctor with the broken phone and get an appointment for next Tues. for a "consultation".  Presumably, the biopsy would be after Thanksgiving.  We did a lot of Reiki, which helped, and I could see her coming into her strength.  And we talked a lot.

On Thurs., she called Sam, our California friend who is a trainer and hypnotherapist.  She has worked with women who have cancer or precancerous conditions.  Her daughter-in-law had a similar experience--an almost certainly "bad" mammogram.  Sam worked with her for a week, and when she went in for the biopsy they couldn't find anything wrong.  Her daughter-in-law had "got the message", and didn't have to get sick any more.  That's my belief.  And Sam's.

So Diana and Sam talked by phone, and will talk again this weekend.  Diana seems much calmer, back in her strength.  What is the message?  It's not for me to know, but I can't help speculating.

Diana grew up in a classic 1950's household with a strong, strict, borderline abusive father and a sweet dependent weak mother.  And yet, her mother was the one who really made all the big decisions.  And now that her father is in his 80's, this pattern is even clearer.  He's mellowed, and she has become stronger.

So Diana married an up-and-coming law student.  Who turned to alcohol, and never amounted to much.  She was the bread winner, the one who could be counted on, the single mom, long before she divorced.  And he was the dependent one.  Who ended up calling all the shots in the marriage.

So I come along, and I don't fit the pattern.  I'm a nice guy and a good provider.  And then I take her away from her power base--she leaves her job, she sells her house.  She feels dependent.  Familiar territory at a deep level, but also very strange for someone who was the rock and support for her two kids for decades.

And the boys are growing up.  Eson is a classic adolescent--scared stiff about growing up and defiantly unwilling to accept any help or advice.  But he is clearly beginning to leave the nest.  More power base erosion.

So Diana and Sam talked, about dependency, about power and equality, and about what Diana's role on Earth is.

The Boston Globe has the most wonderful obituary writer!  He writes about people with love and compassion and deep respect, and, in this crusty independent New England region, there are lots of characters dying every day.  I love to read the obituaries, which freaks out the boys.  But last night Diana and I talked about what her obituary would say in 30 years.  How did she want to be remembered.  She said, almost immediately, "funny and creative".  I said "for adults or children" and she seemed puzzled--of course for adults.  So I think some of this message is that she is ready to be funny and creative.  She's done "responsible", and did an outstanding job of it.  Now it's time to let her child loose, the kid who was battered into submission in childhood and forced to be good and responsible.  The kid who survives in Diana's hundred laughs and sparkling eyes.  The kid who I've always sensed and loved in her.  Come out, come out, wherever you are.  It's your time.

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2002 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.