“It’s benign,” she said. Tears. All I could offer in that moment.
“Oh, Mom . . . That is GREAT news,” I choked out.
Neither of us spoke. I heard the birds in my backyard, she listened to the traffic outside the hospital where she’d just gotten the results. She. Does. Not. Have. Cancer.
We’ve been waiting for weeks. I got the call on a Wednesday. “They found something on my ovary,” my mom said. “I’m coming over.”
She got to my house and I held her as my brain churned and I postulated about next steps. You see, I get very businesslike in situations like this. What do we need to do? Who can I call so you don’t have to? But, the most important question: Why is this happening? doesn’t come until later. Much later.
She had surgery. Both ovaries removed, with the promise of biopsy results in a week. Or ten days. The Lab, capitalized in my mind, became a proper noun, an entity, like the Taj Mahal or the White House—and it was in no rush. I’m certain The Lab doesn’t envisage the person to whom the tumor it’s analyzing under the microscope was once attached. It must just see blood and growths and what’s right or wrong with the specimen. And I didn’t want my mom to be a specimen. She’s not. She’s my mom. I wanted The Lab to see her and know that she’s more than cells on a slide.
But I couldn’t tell it. I had no place to send my words but out into the universe. In my thoughts I urged The Lab: Hurry the fuck up.
We got the news this morning, and I now have a new favorite word: benign. Right now, that word connotes life and living and time and future. The Lab did, in fact, move faster than expected. Maybe it saw my mom somehow, in that piece of her that isn’t. Maybe it knew that she needed to know. She. Does. Not. Have. Cancer.
But I have been all business. I’m crying now as I write this. The word I get to write, the word I’ve wanted to say. To shout. Benign. My new favorite word.