The doctor looked at me with increasing alarm as I felt the tears creeping their way out of the lockdown I normally keep them under. She reached for the box of tissues without breaking eye contact. Delivery came just in time to catch those first couple of strays.
"Do you need a minute?" She asked, not unkindly.
I nodded and she quietly left the room to let me bury my head in my hands.
This had been happening with increased frequency. Out of nowhere something would strike a nerve and my grief would come welling up like a wave that could tumble me right over.
Just a few days before it had come while I was deleting old text messages to free up space on my phone. After excavating back in time, suddenly there was one from my mother, 10 days before she died. It was an inside joke of ours; the pain of missing her was so sharp that I had to sit down and steady myself.
Now I found myself in a similar posture, head between my knees as though trying to recover from nausea. The doctor had said I was brave. Truthful I felt more scared that I had ever been.
I was there to get blood drawn for genetic tests that would look for DNA mutations that could lead to a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The doctors had highly recommended it after my mother passed away from breast cancer last year. It had taken me months before I could even consider it.
It was as the doctor had gone over the quarterly screening that would be required if my tests came back with indications of high risk that I had cried. I had nodded at the mention of more blood tests and MRIs. Then she mentioned a young patient of hers who had opted for the radical double mastectomy. That's when I cried.
If the fear and overwhelm of facing the mere possibility of all of that was this hard, I thought, I could not even imagine what facing an actual diagnosis would have been like.
My heart went to my mother and how she must have felt both times she had received that awful news. Now I finally understood why she had put off getting checked for so long, and how facing that information and possibility must have felt. I wished that I could hold her and comfort her again, with a deeper empathy.
After leaving the doctor's I didn't know what to do with my fear and discomfort. So I grabbed my camera, a costume, and I climbed the ridge behind my house. The doctor had said I was brave to be facing the possibilities. I didn't feel brave. I felt like I was staring into an abyss.
Exploring the Abyss " Good luck exploring the infinite abyss."
Fine Art Print by Jen Kiaba. For pricing visit my "Purchase" page.
But maybe there is a kind of bravery in facing that darkness after all:
There is an abyss for each of us. It is fear and the unknown. But it's something we all come to face at one point or another. Who knows, there might be incredible gems to discover within. So, good luck to us all in exploring the abyss.