The roses were pink and white, three stems wrapped hastily with ribbon, thrust in my hand as I was preparing to leave.
Three weeks prior I was handed two roses, both white with pink ribbons, and I clutched those close to my chest as the air left my body in great gobs of fear.
Two months before this day, I received one single rose, smiling as I left a routine mammogram, without a worry in the world. I handed that rose to a lady that was still waiting on whoever she called, there from the time I arrived until the time I left. She smiled in appreciation, and I kept walking out into the sunshine, ready to take on the world for another day.
As I numbly walked out into the cold, dark, dismal day blindly holding those 3 roses, I wondered if it were some kind of symbol so others in the hospital would know without asking or having to guess: 1 rose meant a test, 2 roses meant something was found, and 3 roses meant a biopsy had just happened.
Or maybe it was as simple as 1 = the 1st visit, 2 = the 2nd visit, and 3 = the 3rd visit.
These random thoughts flew through my head in no particular order, unimportant to anyone else, but my mind needed something to grip, something to hold on to as I was forced to face the possibility of mortality.
Of course I was well aware that no one gets out of this life alive, but I wasn’t quite ready to call it quits just yet. I still had a lot of life to live and I am quite fond of living that life out loud.
The ride home was quiet, no small talk needed to break up the awkwardness. We knew the moments were more solemn, and the weight of a titanium clip marred future plans until we knew answers.
Those roses were still gripped in my hand as I walked in the door, and as my 13 year old took them from me, she remarked at their beauty and asked why I had them.
I wasn’t mad at her lack of compassion because she is so full of compassion that she radiates it out into her world, but I knew she didn’t fully understand the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘this is serious shizzle’ thoughts that had run through my head for weeks. I waved my hand at nothing, said something about the doctor’s office giving them out to each patient today.
She placed the flowers in my favorite purple vase, and set them on the counter.
They stayed there for the 5 days I agonized over every minute waiting for THE call…..the words from a stranger that would change my world, no matter their content.
The call came in the early morning, and I caught my breath when I saw the number, knowing this was THE call and I would have to be prepared to handle whatever was said….rocking my world in the span of a few minutes or perhaps alleviating the fear that held onto my heart for the last too many weeks to count.
“The results are negative.”
I’m not sure I spoke immediately, but when I did find my voice, I asked her again…. “they are negative?” urging the words I needed to hear one more time to flow through the phone and allow me to breathe again.
The roses faded, petals falling and drying up, losing all life while wilting and drooping in less water than they needed.
They remain, a reminder of the three I received after the 3rd visit, proof that I don’t have four roses now, wilting and dying quietly….
with Glitter & Grace, Sasha
*To those who receive news of a positive result, who have their world turned upside down and face the mortality earlier than they had every planned….I send you all the love, strength, peace, and prayers.