Despite my recent "good news" MRI scan, I thought I was going to die this weekend.
For one thing, it just so happened that while my white blood cell count was tanking, my two children both got sick. Jacob started coughing and sneezing and complaining of ear pain, and Emma spent the day with me on Friday with a low-grade fever and diarrhea. And to boot, I have not been able to sleep more than five hours before I awaken to a rush of adrenaline and a flurry of things to think about. Foremost in my thoughts are, "Hey, you know, being sleep-deprived is bad for the immune system. Guess I'll sit and stew on that instead of sleeping." So I'm wondering what could possibly be incubating in my wussy immune system, waiting to take me down.
On top of that, I started having rushes of adrenaline that felt like a seizure coming on again. Thankfully it's been so long since I "seized the day", that I can't remember for sure if it's a seizure or if it's some kind of anxiety attack. But on Thursday night it was so bad that I was actually surprised to fall asleep and wake up alive instead of just losing consciousness.
The good news is that I didn't die. (Or at least, I haven't as of the writing of this post.) Instead, I noticed my life flashing before my eyes, which is something that people will often report when they encounter a brush with mortality.
It may actually have nothing to do with thinking I would die, but may actually have germinated a few weeks ago when my dad brought over the old home movies. I saw my first birthday, several Christmases, my horse, and many family gatherings. We also found a videotape of a 1930's radio show performance that we re-created with friends and took to several senior communities back in 1994. (I had to impersonate Kate Smith, singing "Alexander's Ragtime Band.") These were fun flashes that probably put me in that retrospective mode.
Last night we watched The Karate Kid, which took me back to my early college years. I always remember one of my college roommates when I see this movie, because she always tried her best to mimic Mr. Miyagi's quotes, and it made me laugh.
Right next to our game room (where we watch movies) I have my dollhouse sitting on a ledge at the top of our staircase. When I was a kid I was really into dollhouses, and last year it was one of my many sentimental indulgences, finally getting a house for all the miniature furniture and dolls that have followed me around in boxes for decades. It was fun to pause and reflect as I gazed upon it last night.
I spent this morning (early) doing some writing for my next book. Part of it was spent reviewing some past experiences and writings.
About four hours later I noticed my husband getting the kids dressed, and I realized that it was time for my son's baseball game. (I also remembered that I was the snack mom, and thankfully we happened to have enough juice boxes and snack crackers and apples sitting around, so we didn't have to make a mad dash for the store.) Watching my son play baseball is one of my favorite activities. It always takes me back to when his birth mother told us that he would be an athlete. She was right. And I remember those early days of my son's athletic career three years ago. (He is six years old now.) It also reminds me of how baseball was my favorite sport as a young tomboy. If I didn't have to avoid getting beaned on the head I'd be playing it somewhere now.
Today was also the anniversary of my son's temple sealing to our family. He was not yet three months old when he was sealed to us. After the baseball game today we stopped by the Dallas temple grounds and snapped some family pictures. We looked silly standing next to the temple in our Yankees baseball regalia, but it was still fun to be there. We saw a wedding party taking pictures on the grounds, and I was transported momentarily to my own wedding day. Then I spent some time thinking about Jacob's sealing day, and how cute he was as a little baby in his little white suit. I hope that someday when he is grown, he will spend enough time in the temple to learn the significance of the sealing ordinance.
On the way home from the temple we stopped by Tuesday Morning, one of my favorite stores. As we browsed I noticed a bunch of retired Madame Alexander dolls on sale. I did my family's early birthday shopping for me, because I am a huge Madame Alexander doll fan. My dad gave me many of them as a child, and unfortunately I treated them a lot like my Barbie dolls. I cut some of their hair. I would swap outfits among the dolls. I lost some of the shoes and accessories. I role played my favorite stories with them. As I got older I started taking better care of them, and the evolution of my doll collecting history is displayed in my entryway curio. One of my earlier victims was a Madame Alexander "Greece" doll. My great-grandfather is from Greece, so I liked having a doll representing that country. Unfortunately, I liked it a little too much as a kid and so it is not exactly in mint condition anymore. To my delight, one of the dolls I saw on sale was a newer (but still retired) version of the "Greece" doll. In the cart it went. I also managed to get "Sweden" (never had a Madame Alexander "Sweden", but I also descend from Swedes and I have an old/one-legged/one-armed doll that I think was purchased in Sweden); and I also found a cute "Betsy Ross", complete with accessory flag, which I decided was a must-have (after all, next week is Flag Day).
By this afternoon I was pretty tired, but early this evening we headed to our church talent show. My son had practiced one of his favorite songs from school, but he chickened out at the last minute, so I sang "Two Little Shoes" to him instead. And my husband and I donned our clogging shoes and gave "Duelling Banjos" another whirl again. I was back in my high school days again. (Just older and fatter.) I even put ponytails in my hair, which is something I hadn't done in over three decades.
Finally, a big pile of "organization" project stuff had an avalanche in our bedroom. The biggest part of the avalanche (and thankfully an unharmed one) was the wicker trunk containing the remains of Big Bear. (I hear the collective groan from my family members.)
Big Bear is a huge teddy bear that I received when I was two or three years old. I have a cute picture of little me holding Big Bear when he was new (at the time, Big Bear was bigger than me). Since then, Big Bear's fur has completely worn off, he ripped during a pillow fight with my cousin when I was ten, and he was too rotted to sew back together. So he lost a lot of stuffing, and what's left of him is jammed into a kid's size BYU sweatsuit that is safety-pinned to hold him together. He looks pretty nasty, but he was a good teddy bear who served as my companion and my comfort at home, at sleepovers, at camp, and even at college, until I got married (it's no surprise, then, that I call my husband "Bear"). So this ragged flea trap that represents many years of TLC (I'm talking about Big Bear, not husband-Bear) is mummified in its wicker crypt, because it's too ugly and fragile to be useful. But I can't possibly throw it away. (It's like pumping gas. Why do it now, when I've stubbornly refused to for this many years?) My husband would love nothing more than to be rid of it, but he has endured having Big Bear still around in his wicker crypt (just like he always makes sure I have gas in my car). I told him that the only acceptable way to get rid of Big Bear is to bury me with him. But luckily I didn't die this weekend, and I hope Big Bear's great fall during the junky room avalanche was not a foreboding.
Little flashes of life during this weekend that seemed touch-and-go at times. I was happy to have the vitality necessary to do all this stuff, the ability to remember so many moments of life, and the hope of building more flashes in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.