Monday, May 12, 2014

A Pity Party of (No)One

 I had a minor procedure performed on Thursday. (For those of you who really want to know, here's a link.)

I didn't tell many people about it--my mom, a couple of friends, that was it. My married kids weren't even informed. It was that minor.

Even though it was minor, I wanted to feel like people cared that I was "undergoing a minor procedure" without making it into a big deal. Ya know?

But no one really cared. I was talking with my friends that day, and they had even forgotten it was happening. It was minor--a minor procedure. When one of them asked me what my plans were for the weekend, I whispered that I was headed to the hospital right then. Right then, she remembered, and even before I got home, I received a text from her that she would bring dinner to our family that night.  I was so happy to be remembered.

The procedure was delayed, but it was minor, and before long,I was headed home, where dinner had just been delivered and my kids were happy to see me. Evie wrapped me in her favorite silky and held my hand as she helped me up the stairs to bed.

Still, I was feeling a little sorry for myself.  I mean, I had had a "procedure." My mom hadn't called to check on me, my visiting teachers hadn't been alerted, what was the deal?

Well, to be honest, I hadn't told my visiting teachers, and even if I had, I knew one of them was still recovering from the surprising death of her oldest son and I wouldn't have dreamed of intruding on her.

Brad took all of the kids to pack meeting, and I had the quiet house to myself. It was a beautiful evening, so I grabbed a small blanket and a pillow and carefully made my way down the stairs to the front yard. I lay there in the grass, watching the sky turn from yellow to gray to indigo. Watching the birds make their final flights home. Watching the bats snag a few stray bugs from the sky. Watching the wind rustle the leaves. Just watching and being still.  I don't remember the last time I did that. Those moments alone were a gift.

Before long, my family came skipping home from the church, laughing about a game with brooms and boxing gloves and a balance beam that I never quite understood. Brad brought out a watermelon and cut us all slices. Eve kept touching me gently and giving me kisses. Micah and then Hyrum and then Ben each took a spot next to me and listened as I described what it was like to sleep outside when I was little. Before long, it was time for Brad to tuck in kids and me as well. Lily ran in for a quick hug and American Idol update before she went to sleep. When was the last time I had had long, purposeless conversations with each of my kids? I couldn't even remember.

Still no call from anyone. Weird.

As I turned over in my bed, I noticed a blinking light on the answering machine next to my bed. It was my visiting teacher, and I just knew that she had heard about my "minor procedure" and was checking on me. I listened to the message, and I was disappointed. She needed to talk to the bishop and could he call her back as soon as possible?

Then, my phone buzzed. It was a text from Mom. I called her back, hoping for a little commiseration and pity, but when I asked her how she was doing, the tables turned. Mom had a complete knee replacement less than two weeks ago, and yesterday had been a rough day on her way to recovery. The nurse had been there that day, and she was concerned about the strange color of the knee and the unexplained swelling. Wow. Mom needed me more than I needed her, and I found myself wishing that I was there, helping her recover and easing her burden.

Brad was talking to someone at the door when the home phone rang. I hung up with Mom and answered the land line. It was my visiting teacher, and her bubbly personality and kind voice sounded a little . . . off. She dispensed with the pleasantries and asked if the bishop were available. I explained that he was talking with people downstairs, but I could relay a message if she needed me to.

That's when her defenses broke, and she proceeded to tell me the tale of her last few days--a chance EKG, a strange pattern, a shadow on a CAT scan, and her husband's asymptomatic diagnosis of spinal cancer. I called to Brad, who talked for a few moments, then donned a shirt and tie to go give her husband a blessing and lend a compassionate presence.

When he returned home an hour later, my self-pity had evaporated in the shadows of others' troubles.

My "minor procedure" had become even more minor in my mind. Before I got into bed, I expressed gratitude for the blessings of the day--my easy recovery and the love and attention of my children--and I asked for forgiveness from my earlier self-pity and unjustified annoyance unknown to others. I prayed fervently for those in my life who are facing true pain and true obstacles and true suffering and asked that I could find ways to ease their burdens.

Then I got into bed, and dreamed beautiful dreams.


  1. Is that the same as an ablation? I am SO thinking of doing that.

    Even though it's minor, it's a big deal to the one who's going through it.

  2. have you read natalie holbrook's essay on perspective? not sure if you read that blog, but this made me think of it. loved your post. great way to start my mondee:)

  3. have you read natalie holbrook's essay on perspective? not sure if you read that blog, but this made me think of it. loved your post. great way to start my mondee:)

  4. I would have called had you let me know it was happening. Minor or not, sisters should be privy to things like that.

  5. Mom was worrying about you all that day! She kept saying out loud "I wonder how Jenny is doing" while she was slaving away over stuff for me.

  6. Paige, it is an ablation. And from what I've heard, I'm gonna love the result. I'll keep you posted.