Receiving a call at 4:50AM is never a good thing. So you can imagine how my heart sank when my oldest daughter entered the bedroom with a cell phone in her hand, saying, “Arielle needs to talk to you.”
“Hello,” I said, afraid of what I was going to hear in return. Her words sounded as though they had been carefully chosen, like she had rehearsed them several times over before actually making the call. And then I heard, “Okay, Mom… promise you won’t freak out.” So naturally, I immediately started to freak out, internally! Then I heard, “And don’t go into Mommy Mode, you promise?” I reluctantly promised… with my fingers tightly crossed behind my back.
While my mind was screaming “Arielle just tell me, just tell me what the fuck is happening,” my heart was softly whispering in the background, “Don’t tell me, don’t tell me, don’t tell me… whatever it is don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.”
I heard the words HOSPITAL and CANCER and that was all I heard.
Somehow I managed to hold it together. I listened, asked a few questions, made a lot of “Ah huh” noises and don’t remember if I ever went into “Mommy Mode,” whatever that is?
During the next several hours I vacillated between organized chaos (calling the airline to change my flight, looking for a hotel in London, doing laundry so I’d have clean clothes, calling Nick, etc.) to a generalized, mild hysteria.
My mind said things like, “This cannot be happening; this is my child; someone has made a terrible mistake.” I believed this was a very bad dream and that I would wake up at any minute… but I didn’t.
Soon I realized that this was the beginning of a journey that I never, ever wanted to take.