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unfulfilled wishes


Quite a long time ago, during a meeting for work that was attended by about 60 people, we had to engage in an "ice breaker." Doesn't that just make you want to roll your eyes and groan? That's how I felt at the time -- can't we just jump into the meeting and get this over with, but everyone had to give their name and then state one fact about themselves. Yes, I thought it was queer.

At the time I had recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and was secretly awaiting the surgery date. I hadn't told anyone but my boss because I didn't want everyone treating me differently.

Side note: Eventually I had to admit it because I was on a medical leave for two weeks for the surgery. Part of that time was for mental health. I probably would have been fine to go back after one week, but I got to spend some quality time napping with our cats and that was fun (this happened before we had children).

But after it was out everyone at work, and I mean everyone, treated me like I had leprosy. There was a weird tension in the air and people acted like it was contagious, like if they touched the paper I touched they would "catch" cancer. That sucked. And that is exactly the reason why I have never discussed this with anyone I have met socially after that time.

It truly is my "dirty little secret" that I guard fiercely. My scar has healed very well and is actually difficult to see, even though it is on my neck above my collarbones and is visible pretty much regardless of the shirt I wear. I assume that most people will treat me differently after they find out I had cancer and I hate feeling pity and/or gawking interest from others. It just reminds me of the insincerity I felt at work. I can't tell you how many people walked up to my desk (this was a company of over 1,000 employees) after it was out and simply said to me, "Is it true?"

Eventually I started to say, "Yes, it is true. I actually dye my hair this mousey brown color. My real hair color is platinum blonde."

Okay, I got completely sidetracked there. I guess I still have some unresolved anger regarding the cancer. This is the tidbit I shared with the other 59 people in the room: I am the youngest of six children. I was really surprised by the response I got. Everyone was surprised and amazed. It caused a few oohs and ahhs. And much coversation later.

I remember one guy could not wrap his head around this information and grilled me for a while about it. He was amazed that the age difference between me and my oldest sister is 13 years. He actually asked me, "What do you two talk about? Isn't it hard to talk to her because she's so much older than you?"

No. It's all I've ever known. It is not weird to me, it's the norm to me. I do remember, as a kid, locking myself in the bathroom to have some physical space away from all of the people in the house. When I was in the bathroom I would sit on the tile floor, away from the door, and wish as hard as I could that I was an only child.

That wish never came true.

I just realized that when I visit them I still use the bathroom at my parent's house as a refuge when things get to be too much for me. But now I have to take my 2-year-old in with me. She and I sit on the floor and I wish for all of the grief to go away.

I'm pretty sure that wish is not going to come true, either.


2007-07-25 at 7:10 a.m.

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