As I write this I have just pulled into the parking lot at the office of my urologist, Dr A. I have parked in stall number 61 and I find myself frozen in the drivers seat of my car as unwanted memories come flooding back into my brain. I remember the day I pulled into this parking lot with Ben. I don’t recall what stall number we parked in that day, but I do recall repeating the number out loud and saying “that’s our good luck number today.”
On that particular day in April 2015, which was two and half years ago but feels, smells and tastes like yesterday, we thought we were coming to find out how Dr A was going to help save Ben. How he was going to operate on Ben’s kidney in conjunction with another (as yet unknown but definitely brilliant) surgeon who would simultaneously remove the tumour on Ben’s sacrum. ON, being the operative word.
Sadly, that’s not how that day turned out.
This is a picture of Ben that day, waiting to be called into Dr A’s office.
On that day particular day, any good luck we may have had ran out about 5 minutes later as we found out for certain that Ben’s cancer was IN his bones. IN. A far cry from ON. Up until that moment we had sort of envisioned a tumour that was resting gently on his tailbone waiting to be plucked off by a skilled surgeon. We would hear “All done, thank you very much for coming out and have a happy life.” It was not to be.
(If you want to read about that shitty day as written by me at the time in 2015, you can get all the gory details here: https://wendylynnesaintonge.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/360-hours/ Forgive the language. I was not exactly grace under pressure that day.)
When we left Dr. A’s office that day we hopped back into our car somewhere around stall 61 and Ben burst into tears. He cried and shook, and I felt like a child who doesn’t know what to do when they see their mom or dad cry. Ben doesn’t (didn’t) cry. Ever. Period. But on that day he cried, and I knew then that we were in for an ugly ride with no happy ending.
In 2016 I had to come back to this office, and I remember being hit hard with the emotion of that day the year before. As it turns out, those reactions don’t lessen with time, and I realize now that I shouldn’t have come here alone. I feel like I’m walking back into the war zone as I gather up the strength to get out of my car and go in there.
Well, here I am. I have just stepped off the elevator I am struck by the empty chairs in the hallway.
Those chairs are the same chairs we sat in on that day. That day when Ben existed and all our hope hadn’t been stolen from us. As I stand here I want to scream out loud … “My Ben sat there when he existed!!” But I won’t. Instead I will walk inside and quietly take a seat, and wait to see Dr A.
My visit today is to review the results of my recent kidney CT. My kidney has been aching and I generally haven’t been feeling well, or at least I hadn’t been feeling well at the time this appointment was made. Dr A didn’t want to mess around and so I went for a CT. Today I will get the results.
I’m not freaking out. The truth is that I already know the results and this visit is just a formality. I know the ct was clear. I know this because I was losing my mind with anxiety and so my GP checked for me over a week ago. He said all was fine. Still, it’s funny … even though I know that I’m ok I am still a bit nervous right now.
I’ve just been moved into Dr A’s inner office and I expect to see him any minute.
Even though I know, there is still some crazy, far off corner of my mind that is whispering, “what if…” I can’t help but be acutely aware that one day Ben went trotting into the doctor to find out whether he needed surgery or a cortisone shot for his injured back, and he left the office knowing he had cancer. And he was all alone when he found out. I remember the exact day…the exact moment… because I hounded him via text for the results until he finally responded “no surgery.” I said “yay” and went back to work, without a care in the world. I now know he was on the phone to Jeff, telling him the news that would irrevocably alter and destroy so many peoples lives, and none of them even knew it. I didn’t know it.
I’m oddly grateful that I had two extra days of blissful ignorance, and at the same time I am horrified that Ben had to carry that alone for 48 hours.
I can hear Dr A now. He’s obviously done with the previous patient and is on his way in. My God, I shouldn’t have come alone. Here we go …
As expected, that was uneventful. The CT was clear and the pain I feel around my kidney is likely muscular. I’m sad that Ben didn’t get that relief.
I have just walked out of the inner office, and this is what I see:
There’s the chair Ben sat in on that day. Ben sat there. Ben once existed, and he sat there.