A hundred years ago, I was a news reporter covering the cops beat. Sometimes I had to go ask people questions after tragedy had struck, and it was the worst thing ever. More for them, I'm sure, than me.
I think that's when I learned to compartmentalize. I'm pretty sure the mental health professionals would say it's not a good thing to do. But I'm a black belt at it now, and I'm too old to stop putting fears and tears and thoughts of foreboding into their own little closets in my head.
Take the last couple of weeks, for example. Jeff had hurt his knee playing basketball and had finally gone to the doctor. I suspected a muscle or meniscus tear. Something painful but fixable with time and frozen peas. "Baby," he said, calling me after the doctor. "Don't freak out."
So of course I freaked out. Silently, because I was at work. But yeah. The loop was thrown.
"There was a strange shadow on the Xray. It could be nothing. It could be cancer. I'll need an MRI to know for sure."
I'm not exactly sure that's what he said because it all went to Charlie Brown's teacher speak as my mind spun into how Ali would deal with being half-an-orphan, how I'd deal with widowhood and whether he'd be buried in Indiana or Maine.
I mumbled something I hope was comforting as he ended the call saying we'd talk more at home. I shook my head, built a new mental closet with a really big lock and slammed the door.
I dealt with an employee resigning from my already too-small staff. I dealt with last minute details with my upcoming work trip that would end the day the MRI was scheduled. I might have talked to my boss and co-workers. Hell, I might have been interviewed by CNN. Who could say?
I'm not sure how Jeff made it through the next few days. He apparently has a few closets of his own.
Long-story short, the shadow turned out to be a bone spur. Probably has been there since his little bones first formed. That news was clearly delivered and received. Can we all say, "wahoo?"
So anyway, it's Sunday, we're all as healthy as we can be. I've deconstructed my latest mental clost -- no need for that box of worry to take up any more space.
Ali and Dominic are upstairs, waiting for Jeff to get back home with Amanda in tow. I'm downstairs.
I hear the creaking of the floor underneath my husband's heavy tread and his booming voice. He's home. My daughter is squealing as her friends surround her.
My little world is perfect.