Thursday, April 23, 2020

No Pomp. All Circumstance.

I’m sitting in an empty classroom across from my daughter’s teacher.  I’m here for Parent Teacher Conferences, but I’m having a hard time taking it seriously.  I already know my daughter gets good grades.  I already know she is not a troublemaker.  I already know she manages well socially.  So why am I here?  Nevertheless, we begin a methodical dissection of topics the teacher feels responsible to address.  It’s all as expected, and I pay careful attention to the teacher’s comments because I may as well bask in all the compliments while I’m here.  She even wrote some of them on a piece of paper and slid it across to me.  The first word that popped out to me was in all caps.  “EXCELLENT!” it said.   I smiled inwardly to mask my pride.  There were other comments written in the margins and I zeroed in on one in particular.  I slowly processed the words, “Needs some practice with using small dots of glue.” 

I tried not to laugh.

My daughter is 4.  This is preschool.  And before she “graduates” we have to talk about how she holds her scissors, recognizes her own name and tries to color within the lines.  In spite of the glue debacle, Samantha was deemed worthy to move on.  Certificates were signed, grad hats were made from styrofoam bowls, a ceremony was held, and my little toe-headed girl in a blue, flowered dress crossed the preschool finish line with her “diploma” in hand.

Today my daughter is graduating from Brigham Young University.  We didn’t know it at the time, but Samantha’s preschool graduation would end up holding more pomp and circumstance than this quarantined, canceled one.  But there’s something I would like to tell that 4-year-old girl.  First, school is about to get really hard for you.  And you know what?  You work your butt off, fight through it and learn valuable skills that help you all the way through college.  Second, you are about to make some friends that will exploit you and manipulate you to get what they want.  And you know what?  You learn who to trust and how to respect yourself and you end up with a life full of beautiful friendships.  Third, you’re going to have your heart broken, a few dreams crushed, and your faith tested.  And you know what?  You’re going to marry the perfect guy for you, create new dreams, and advocate for God to hundreds of people.  Fourth, you’re going to be the most phenomenal older sister to the best younger brother.  He will be your first best friend.  Fifth, your parents are going to love you the whole time.  And finally, I want the world to know how very proficient you will one day become with a bottle of glue.

Happy College Graduation, baby girl.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Grateful Not To Be Dead

I’m sitting on a gurney.  The nurse in front of me is holding up a robe in a manner that suggests, “take off your shirt and put this on” even though the room is bustling with people.  I hesitate for a second, just long enough to confirm that I am, in fact, in a hospital and haven’t consented to some perverted photo shoot.  The male doctor turned his back for a moment out of respect.  It didn’t stop him from peppering me with questions while the others tugged, pulled and attached things to me as if they were working against a clock to navigate an Escape Room.  

Do I drink?  Do I smoke?  Have I been out of the country in the last 30 days?  Do I have any former pets tattooed in weird places?  Does my family have a history of spelling normal names in super dumb ways?  (Hey Utah, I’m looking at you.)
Do I look like a pet person?
My friend’s name is Jourdenne but it’s not her fault and we are not blood-related.

I had gone to bed with chest pain the night before and even though I didn’t think anything was seriously wrong, I made sure I was thorough.  I turned to Cory and said, “If I die in my sleep just know that you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”  He replied, “Please don’t die.”  I thought about adding, “I’m not going to die.  But if I do please know that I’m not one of those benevolent wives who would be all, ‘Get remarried as soon as possible.  I just want you to be happy.’  I want you to be happy eventually, just be miserable for a little bit first.  When it gets to the point that salads are a trigger of fond memories, by all means find a wife.”  But I refrained.  In the middle of the night I felt him poke me.  I later confirmed he was looking for proof of life which I gave him in spades as I mumbled, “I’m ali….” I was too tired to finish the sentence. 

I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to die.  So, why were all of these doctors freaking out?  I hadn’t even filled out the paperwork before the whole floor was paged on my behalf.  Did you hear me?  I HADN’T FILLED OUT THE PAPERWORK YET.  All I said was, “I’m having some chest pain,” and the doors parted, the crowd descended and a roomful of strangers told me to take my shirt off.  I felt like Brad Pitt minus the EKG.

Just to cover my bases I messaged my kids to tell them I loved them and was proud of them.  A little silly, I suppose; because I wasn’t going to die.  But they were sending me in for a CT scan to check some other things and you just never know.

Upon completion of all available tests, the doctor confirmed a non-life-threatening diagnosis and said, “Take Advil.”  I got naked for these people and all they can say is take Advil?  Am I on “Tinder: The Day After” special?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m relieved that I didn’t have a heart attack.  I’m thrilled not to be riddled with blood clots.  But now that it’s over and I’m not dead I’m contemplating the meaning of this experience.  I’m boiling it down to this.  One, tell your people you love them, even when everything is fine.  Two, for all of you “Mikinlie’s” and “Arick’s” out there, I’m sorry you were born into an abusive family.  There’s no shame in getting help.  Finally, the next time you feel ignored in the ER waiting room and you want to bump yourself up on the list, tell them your broken leg is suddenly causing you chest pain.  You won’t believe what happens next.