“Own the fear,” he told me when I told him about the surgery I would need, the one in which they would open my chest and replace the worn out, tired valve with a bright, shiny new one. “Own it, acknowledge it, say it out loud,” my friend advised, he who has been through his won challenges of the heart, mind and soul over the years.
Haven’t we all?
So here I am, counting down the days. Owning my fear. Because I really am afraid.
I’m afraid that this surgery will catapult me from being young(ish) to being old. That I will need frequent monitoring and will feel feeble. I am afraid of all the help I will need for things that I have always done for myself.
I am afraid that I won’t ask for the help that I will need and suffer because of it.
I am afraid that I will make it hard for my family and friends.
I am afraid that my body won’t respond the way it is expected to, that there will be complications and setbacks.
I am afraid that I will be lonely and afraid in the hospital.
I am afraid that this will be so hard for my girls, adults, all, but still so young.
And of course, the most obvious one. Not likely, they say, at least statistically. So when I think about it (dying — there I go, owning the fear), I say a little prayer, and try to visualize that moment when I wake up, when the awareness that I am alive, that 3-5 hours have passed into oblivion and the first coherent thought that will come to my brain will be, ”Thank You, G-d. Thank You. Now when can I see Isaac and the girls?”
Sometimes I own the fear by pushing it back into the vestiges of my mind. By thinking positive thoughts. By thanking G-d that I live in a time where it is possible to open up a person, take out a damaged part and replace it with a new one with minimal risk.
By being grateful for all of my people, the family and friends who have been so kind and supportive.
And I’m thankful for the strong, young(ish) body I have now, of everything it can do for me and my well being, of its ability to heal. And to love.