I cried at work this week. I hate crying at work, and frankly have done it more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve learned to control my crying, which is a skill I have longed for over the years. Earlier in my life I went from prickles behind the eyes to full on blubbering in less than 10 seconds. Quivering chin and all. Thankfully, with a deep breath, staring off into space, and usually, a pinch to my forearm, I now have more control of those tear ducts. But on this particular day, with this particular set of circumstances, no amount of deep breaths, staring or pinching was going to make a difference. I broke down.
I’m always prepared to hear the news that Justin has a reoccurance of his lymphoma when we visit his doctor every few months. You just never know and we are always equipped to take what comes. We’re pros. When Justin told me a couple of weeks ago that he knew it was back, I started mentally preparing for it. We went to the doctor, he got some tests and we “lived our lives as normal” as we are always told by his hematologist. Fridays are doctor days. I usually have an entire week to prepare myself for every aspect of our trip into the office, down to the clothes I am wearing. You never know when you’ll have to spend 13 hours at the hospital. Comfy shoes, jeans, a decent but comfy top, a light jacket in the winter, and always freshly showered. Doctor visits give me things to focus on. We sit together in the waiting room, make jokes, play on our phones, people watch, and complain that we are hungry. We’ve got it down. That’s the part they never show on TV or in the movies. The part that makes it bearable.
It was only Monday. I had four more days and back to back meetings all day. Justin was home sick with a rather disgusting version of the stomach flu, I was worried but knew he would be on the mend. In the middle of my last meeting of the day my cell phone rang for the third time that hour, it was the hospital again. I stepped out of the meeting into the busy hallway of my office and had a doctor “go over Justin’s test results” with me over the phone. Justin was home sleeping and hadn’t picked up his phone. I was the one who was going to have to tell him.
I listened intently as this person I had met only a week before told me about where in my husband’s body the cancer is. My mind immediately was split in two.
“I need to listen to him” I’d remind myself.
But it was Monday, I was in a hallway at work, I was not with Justin, I wasn’t wearing my doctor appointment attire, I had to pee, and had a meeting that I had to get back to. This is not how we do this. I awkwardly left a message for my husband relaying, word-for-word, what I had been told.
“I love you, see you soon.”
And I walked back into my last meeting of the day. After the meeting ended, I got back into my work area and broke down. It wasn’t really that the lymphoma was back, it was that Justin and I have found a way to just make this a normal part of our lives. I got a heartbreaking phone call in the hallway of my office, left my husband a detailed message on what is happening and walked back into a meeting without missing a beat. Its the new normal.
I don’t cry about the lymphoma in front of Justin. It is one promise I made to myself when he was diagnosed. It’s not about me. At all. My role is to support my husband however he needs me to, to be his second set of eyes and ears, to love him just as I do any other day of the week. To make “living our lives as normal” relatively possible. So I cried at work. I finished my day, smiled as I walked out the door, called my mom on the way home, walked into the house and went back to normal.
“How was your day?”