I was walking into Kroger. Convincing my three year old we didn’t need “the car cart” because we were just running in for one thing. My phone rang.
“Hey…you hear the latest CA19-9?”
“What? No! Did you get it?”
Silence. I tried to speak. But I was….choking.
So Trav spoke. “14,000………..So. That’s it. It’s definitely going up. I talked to Hamrick. I am going to get a CT scan to see if they see anything. And Hamrick is going to call MD Anderson and talk to them about next steps.”
Silence…I tried to speak…I think I tried to say “I…I…I’m so sorry Trav.” But I was choking.
I took a couple of deep breaths. I muscled out a question or two here and there. But never more than a few words. I couldn’t. There was something in my throat.
I was choking.
I wandered aimlessly around Kroger as my three year old begged me for a cookie and I tried to think of something…anything….encouraging to say. But I couldn’t.
I was choking.
Whatever this thing was in my throat that wasn’t allowing me to swallow couldn’t have had worse timing. I needed to be there for my friends. I needed to encourage them. To tell them I was here no matter what. I needed to say something. But I just couldn’t.
I was choking.
I tried to clear my throat. Nothing came up.
Travis talked about the possibility of a medical trial and perhaps this was God’s way of saying it was time to do something different. He sounded remarkably well. I think I managed to tell him how well he sounded…through my choking.
All the while my head was racing. Doing the math. What percentage of change were we seeing? How fast? All the while working on getting out of my throat whatever it was that was stuck. Whatever it was I was choking on.
Trav talked a little longer and then quickly said “Carrie’s callin. Gotta go.” I think he might have even said good bye.
I sat in my car for a second. Still holding the phone to my ear. And suddenly, the thing that had been stuck in my throat…grew. I tried my best to swallow it back. I panicked a little because it was starting to impede my breathing.
I tried choking it back…but it had gotten too big. I no longer could. And so with a cough it came out.
The sob I had been choking back came forward.
Anguish. Pain. Heartache. Anger. Tears. More tears.
That’s what had been stuck in my throat. That’s what had been gathering while my friend told me his news.
That’s what I was choking on every time I tried to speak.
I don’t think we ever truly know what it feels like to walk in Carrie’s and Travis’ shoes. To ever truly understand what it feels like to be them. To be facing this. To be living…this. In fact…I don’t think we can relate to what it is like to be their mother. Father. Sister. Brother. Family. To hear the news. To face a reality that seems so bleak. We can’t relate. We can’t understand it.
I have cried my share of tears over this and have fooled myself into thinking that, because of those tears, I understand what they are going through. But today I realized.
Today. For the first time…I had a glimpse of what it is like to be walking their road. What it is like when they lay their heads down to sleep. When Carrie and Travis look at their children. When their parents, siblings, family…look at them with their children. Today, for just a moment, I knew what it felt like to live a life where it always feels like…