My cell phone rings, and it’s my doctor’s office, and I know this because long ago, and what now seems far away, I was smart enough to program their number so if I ever needed to call them, I’d already have it stored in contacts. Which, also means, should they have need to call me, I would preemptively know it’s them.
You know and I know they don’t call unless they have News.
Last week was my annual check-up and among the humiliation of feet in stirrups and knees apart, I casually mentioned my increasing forgetfulness and how sleep is interrupted by the way my body simmers while I’m dreaming. This, from the woman whose blood is reptilian, who sidles up to fire like it’s second skin, the one who warms hands over a cracked-open stove when I pull cookies from the oven in the middle of summer.
They had scraped cells from my cervix and punctured vein to draw blood, and when my phone rings days later, I see their name and number flashing across the tiny screen. I bargain with the gods, begging for the lesser of two evils.
I’m a winner; it was the lesser.
“I guess you know you’re in menopause….” and she seems nervous to say it out loud, not knowing me well enough to how I’ll respond.
Here’s the thing I found out in that moment: suspecting it…joking about it…is not the same thing as k.n.o.w.i.n.g. I still have monthly cycles, so how is it even possible? I thought I still had time.
Time for what, I really don’t know, it’s not like I want to get pregnant. When I hear a 40-something friend is expecting my first thought is always you’d have to shoot me.
Forgetfulness. Thinning hair. Restless sleep. Weight gain–well, not so much gain as change. My body is just…different.
I can’t think of questions to ask, though I try, but I’m mostly ignorant and tangle-tongued. All I get out of the conversation is my estrogen is at 11 and she’s mailing me the lab report, so I imagine my questions will come then.
So I hang up the phone and start mining the internet for what I’m condemning myself for not automatically knowing. And every site I pull up is little more than ads and click throughs, and in seconds I’m disgusted and don’t want to learn anything that way. I’ll show them.
I slip down the stairs to my kitchen and snarf the last brownie. It tastes like cliché but, mercifully, the calories bring more comfort than regret.
I wander into my daughter’s room and study her full length mirror, looking for something and nothing. Months ago, before she left home, she scribbled a verse across slick glass in green, and I wondered why it was the one she chose; what did she want to press into her heart? What did she need to hear and believe and know from her Creator?
I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. The one who chose you can be trusted, and he will do this.
My God, I think, it’s for me. It’s for me, now.
And the sun streams in strong and shadows cast across the half of me and I can’t help but think that’s right. Shadows and sun, darkness and light, lies and truth. My head is a swirl and my reflection is all wrong.
There’s movement pulling my gaze away from my face – only then do I notice my somber expression – three squirrels in a game of tag, a twitchy skitter across my back yard. A fat robin (oh, the irony) materializes out of no where and lands on a scraggly branch of our dogwood that never seems to grow. She makes me smile and think Spring…
So why do I feel like Autumn.
I’ll turn 50 next month.