I remember waking up with nerves but not allowing myself to, “go there.” The odds were forever in our favor.
I remember my Mom picked us up. She insisted on driving us. A mother’s intuition.
I remember my phone buzzing with words of prayers and encouragement. We had of course let our closest circle know about the appointment we had the Friday before.
I remember we took the LSD route to the hospital since it was such a beautiful day. I remember vividly that it was a perfect fall day in Chicago. My absolute favorite.
I remember that Kevin wore a Notre Dame t-shirt. I remember that because we were giving him a hard time for dressing up for the occasion.
I remember walking into the office I was to report too and there were women with bald heads everywhere.
I remember specifically that I was texting with Kaela in that moment and I remember telling her, “I don’t belong here!”
I remember the waiting room – we sat in the corner. We were talking baby names. I remember laughter. I remember my Mom taking Kevin’s side in some debate, probably some wild name idea. Those two collude against me.
I remember the nurse calling us back.
I remember the doctor walking in with his brigade of med students. That room was packed.
I remember the doctor starting the procedure. There was a TV that showed the students what he was looking at.
I remember him asking if I wanted to watch. I remember thinking to myself, “Is this guy out of his mind? Why would I want to do that?” I politely declined and turned my head the other way.
I remember Kevin standing behind me, his hands on my shoulders the entire time.
I remember quiet. I don’t know if it was but I remember just pure silence.
I remember not even being able to sit up or put my clothes back on before the doctor said, “Oh yeah. This is cancer. You will lose this baby and you won’t be able to have kids again.”
I remember that taking all but 10 seconds to say. 10 seconds to shatter someone’s world. It’s all it took.
I remember silence again. I remember vividly wanting to talk but having no words.
I remember it feeling like 30 minutes had come and gone before either of us could muster words. I’m sure it was a minute.
I remember Kevin finally breaking the silence. I remember him specifically asking, “You’re sure? You’re sure that it’s cancer?”
I remember the doctor responding with, “Oh it’s for sure cancer.” I remember feeling like, “a little compassion, please?!”
I remember sobbing. I remember shaking.
I remember feeling so defensive towards how flippantly ‘losing your baby’ was being tossed around.
I remember Kevin not releasing me from his grip, as if that was the moment he realized he couldn’t physically protect his wife or child from this.
I’m sure the doctor said more but I don’t remember any of it.
I remember the nurse asking if that was my Mom in the waiting room. I said yes. She asked if I wanted her in there. I said yes please. Who doesn’t want their Mom the moment their world shatters?
I remember when my Mom walked in and I swear I will never forget the look on her face.
I remember telling her what we had been told. I never knew you could visibly see someone’s heart shatter like that.
I remember my Mom went into the bathroom in the room and threw up.
I remember shock.
I remember my Mom holding Kevin. And holding my hand.
I remember them telling us the biopsy results would be back in 2-3 days and that would confirm the diagnosis, reveal what type of cancer it was and would inform what next steps would be.
I remember walking out of the hospital, into that same perfect fall day, except now our world was upside down.
I remember being on the sidewalk outside of the hospital. I remember not really knowing what to do. No one had spoken yet. It was so sunny.
I remember breaking the silence with a smile, saying, “So what do you do after that? Do we go shopping? Do we eat? What does one do when they’re told they have cancer?!”
I remember we laughed.
I remember getting into the parking garage elevator, only to realize we were in the completely wrong parking garage.
I remember getting into the second elevator, in the right garage, one over, and a woman got in with us. I remember her looking at all three of us, we had clearly been sobbing. I watched her as she so badly wanted to say something but didn’t. I watched her hesitate after she got off on her floor, I watched her as she turned back to look at us one last time.
I remember driving through the garage when it hit me, “Wow. Am I going to lose my hair?!” I remember my Mom telling me to not even go there. I laugh now at that. That’s what you were worried about, Beef?!
I remember we drove to a restaurant that became our go to in the beginning of this nightmare. There began our love affair with stress-eating-french-fries.
I remember vividly that there was a little kid sitting at our next table, in a cute camo coat. I remember because I remember thinking to myself how cruel that was, that was a mini Kevin!
I remember my Mom prayed for us before we ate. I remember my Mom telling us to not get angry with each other as we tackled this. I remember not understanding in the moment the magnitude of that piece of advice.
I remember we found a way to laugh a lot. I remember my Mom telling me and Kevin to stop talking about whether I’d wear a Hawks hat or orange hat once I lost my hair. It was as if this lunch was our one last piece of “normalcy” before facing the world.
I remember my Mom taking us out to her house, a place that quickly became our refuge.
I remember calling my sister. I remember it was right as we were passing under the old post office. I remember, “Mary Did you Know,” was playing. (Yes, Christmas music became instantly allowed). I remember the silence on my sister’s end as she tried to understand what I was saying. I remember crying my eyes out with her. I remember feeling like no sister should get a phone call like that.
I remember calling the rest of my family members. My Dad. His world shattered. All of my brothers. My sister in law. I remember how automatically upbeat my older brother was, we were going to beat this no question. I remember how crushed my little brother was. I remember the disbelief in all of their voices.
I remember getting a text from Kaela while we were still in the car. We were crossing a railroad, nearly to my parents house. I remember responding to her, “It’s really bad Kaela.” She called me. We cried. And cried.
I remember my family mobilizing quickly and meeting us at my parents house. I remember the hugs. I remember the look of shock. Disbelief. Of utter sadness. I remember the blank stares as we sat on the couch.
I remember calling Sheila and Hilary. I remember this strange sort of calm about myself, knowing I was about to shatter their worlds too. I remember telling myself I had to make it ok for them to feel this, like I felt it. They were about to be in this fight as much as I was.
I remember talking to Hilary while in my parent’s kitchen. I was standing over the sink. I remember moving to the window, staring out of it as I listened to her try to understand this.
I remember vividly dialing Sheila. I knew as soon as she saw “B” pop up, she’d know. You see, we have a spoken rule: phone calls are reserved for emergencies or deaths. Instead, we text 100’s of times a day. It’s become our thing! I called her that day. The only other time I called her through all of this was when she and Moe graciously took our skunked dogs while I was in the hospital, all while 8 months pregnant. Heroes.
I remember feasting on Augustino’s that night. Food. A common theme (eating) in our disbelief!
I remember taking a call from my OB. I remember the shock and disbelief in her voice. I remember periods of silence. Just completely shocked.
I remember my brother Chris, who had basketball that night, leaving practice just to come give me a big hug, before heading right back.
I remember getting back to our apartment to find a bouquet of flowers at our door step, with a card, from my brother in law Sean. He has the sweetest heart. I remember he wrote that he had no idea what to say but that we had a whole lot of Conrad’s and Hart’s behind us. And that we did. That we do.
I remember knowing in my core how this was going to play out, but praying like I’ve never prayed before for some miracle over the next 2-3 days as we waited for the official diagnosis. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed that this was simply a bad dream. I pleaded with God over and over, please let this baby be safe.
I don’t remember going to bed that night. I don’t remember at all how Kevin and I ended that day. I don’t even remember if we slept that night. I’m sure we wondered how we were going to make it through the next 2-3 days. I’m sure we felt a million different emotions. Actually, maybe we felt nothing at all. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember that part. We were probably numb.
It was all, it is all, still, so surreal.