I realized recently -- sometime last month -- that I have my father's laughter. That is, when I laugh, I mean really laugh, I sound like my dad. It's this boisterous chuckle that I always thought was distinct to my father. It's always been comforting, the thought of his laugh and the smile that accompanies it. I can picture instances of him talking with his co-workers near endcaps for light bulbs and building gadgets while he worked at Payless, the lumber store, when he was a manager and before it went under; the CEOs walked away with millions. And he was always laughing, because he was happy. And now, I hear that laughter when I get rolling, and at first when I noticed it, it made me exceeding uncomfortable. This being because I'd noticed earlier this year, while looking at a photo taken at a friend's birthday party, that in that split instance of the photo, I looked exactly like my mother.
Where we come from, our genes, out family trees, those who preceded us in both spirit and blood, matters so much. What they are and have, we are and have, and thus we give to our children.
I had a bit of an emotional breakdown last night. I don't write about this stuff very often, mostly because this blog is my baby and I want it to be as positive, if not healthy, as possible. But I had this small, mostly painless procedure last week to get rid of some moles and I got a call last night that one of them is questionable and I have to go back in for a more invasive procedure. Okay, it's not that invasive -- it's a cut about as long as my finger with some stitches, but I'm the girl who has never had stitches, never spent time in the hospital, never broken any bones, nothing. I am, for the most part, a picture of health. Well, unless you count the eczema (mom), my bad knees (who knows), asthma and allergies (dad), and some other non-life-threatening but absolutely consistently irritating and painful things that I deal with. But last night, while attempting to put a band-aid on this spot on my back -- in no man's land, right in the middle -- I got frustrated. Six band-aids in, and no luck, I finally slapped one on and said screw it. I walked out to my bed, and I sat down, and I felt defeated. It was then that I realized a friend had called (voicemail) to check up on me to see how I was doing, and I just broke down. I spent the next hour in and out of sobs. It took me back to being at the doctor's office and his dismay at me not having anyone around to help me bandage. That old enemy, the voice of "you are so very alone" crept back in and beat me down. I was alone.
I've been thinking a lot lately about sickness, death and dying. I found out today that one of my high school teachers (who, in truth I never took classes from but someone I knew and who my friends had classes with) died after a long bout with Leukemia. In high school, I had a half-dozen friends lose their mothers to cancer of some sort, and this year an ex lost her mother to cancer as well. I knew a kid in high school who had testicular cancer and survived. I know someone with fibromyalgia. I know a lot of people, who have family and friends who deal with a lot of horrible things. But in truth, I've never been touched by these things, at least, not in that painful, life-long struggle to cope with a sick, dying relative or close friend. I'm one of the lucky ones, I guess, is what I'm saying.
I can't complain about some stupid "questionable" moles or the eczema that has kept me from wearing shorts of any variety, not to mention swimsuits, since my freshman year of high school and that makes me feel perpetually in pain, if not disgusted at myself. I can't get in a tissy about my knees that sound like squishing crumpled potato chip bags when I walk up the stairs. I can't complain about the cough that won't go away or how half the time I can't sleep and the other half I sleep like a baby but that there's no median. Or maybe, rather than can't, I should say shouldn't. I shouldn't complain, because I don't really have the right. Because in truth, I don't have it that bad.
Every day I worry that the breast cancer, that caused my grandmother much pain but didn't kill her, will fall to me. Or that I'll discover I, like my father and uncle and others, have diabetes; it killed two of my great aunts. Maybe, I'll discover that I have lung cancer, despite having never smoked; it killed my grandmother when my dad was just a child. Then there is the heart disease that killed my grandfather when my father was 10 and resulted in my own fathering having to have a bypass several years ago. I try so hard to not dwell on these things. And it's why I've turned into my mother when it comes to doctors -- avoid, avoid, avoid. What you don't know can't hurt you, right?
But then I have these moments where I'm doing something as small as bandaging a wound -- a wound created because a doctor was worried about the possibilities (no one in my family has ever danced with skin cancer). And now, I have to go back because there is a small possibility. I should be grateful, right? I wish I could be. I just keep wondering -- if something were to happen to me, who would be there to take care of me?