Not until a certain poky little puppy stuck his curious snout in as far as he could. For a breathless, staggering moment the shock took over before he felt the fire and took off running. I spotted the tiny red flecks on his snow white paws and put two and two together. I ran after him and scooped him up. The red flecks were now sharp jaws that bit and cut into my hands as I furiously wiped his paws and nose clean.
In the bath, the water ran from the tap and collected into a pool of ants desperately trying to stay afloat on swirling strands of fur. The sting and itch began to set in as I watched it all wash down the drain. With the exception of a smallish bump on the bridge of his nose, my pup was spared the worst of it. I’m still rubbing cortisone cream into my hands and fighting the urge to itch.
That urge to itch lingered on through homeschool anatomy the next morning. Clavicle. Coccyx. Femur. Pelvis. Patella and so on. Burning anxious bumps waiting to be soothed as I stirred the mac and cheese at lunchtime. Impatient. Can’t wait. Won’t wait. Incessant. Tugging, gnawing, aching to be scratched.
Amid that, amongst the stacks of papers and cooling lunch. Next to the stack of bones waiting to be named, in the body with the hands that cannot be soothed, a worry starts to build. Nagging, insistent. Quiet at first, louder with time.
My MRI is less than 60 days away.
In less than two months, exactly one week after I will pull a bronzed and delicious bird from the oven and celebrate thanks, I will spend the day in the car traveling back and forth. I will be poked and measured and scanned. In less than 60 days I will find out if my desmoid tumor is growing again. In less than 60 days it will be, possibly, maybe, hopefully two years without a recurrence. The longest I’ll have gone in the 6 years since calamity came.
I’m in the in between. Immediately after the shock of it all has worn off, but just before the reality sets in. Far enough out from my last scan that the joy and relief has worn off. Close enough to the next one that my heart quickens its pace at the thought. Suspended in time, waiting to see if the worry is for naught. Running memories of chemo. Nausea, weakness, pain. Fear.
I’m in the in between, the nagging, nauseating, heavy, suffocating in between. Still and breathless. Worrying. Waiting. And wanting to know.