Monday, October 1, 2007

The Big Squeeze

If I could do it again, I might have folded the referral sheet and tucked into that pocket in my purse where I stuff things I can't handle quite yet, but I need to have handy for the moment my courage surges back.

But I didn't.

Today when home, while the kids were rummaging around for afterschool snacks, I taped it up at eye level on the side of the refrigerator.

It took less than 15 minutes for Zoe to see it, read it, and ask me what was going on.

"Oh that? It's for my mammogram." Damn, why didn't I leave it in my purse?

"Your WHAT?"

"Mammogram. It's where they use a special machine to squeeze your boobies and to make sure everything is OK."

She gasped and held her imaginary breasts. "Will it hurt?"

I don't answer.

It hurts now, deep in the pit of my stomach.

Thinking about it makes me flinch, the pain more emotional than physical.

My breasts have been good to me.

I can't imagine them being part of any sinister plot to shorten my life, take my hair, challenge my virility.

"It's no big deal. If it does hurt, it'll only be for a minute. I'm tough, right? Plus, if there is anything wrong, I can get NEW breasts!"

She gasped in mock excitement. "How?"

"You know Aunt Milly? She had breast cancer and she got two new boobies AND a tummy tuck. You can ask HER how they make new ones."

I smiled and locked my teeth together, waiting for Zoe to lead the conversation.

To change the subject would raise her antenna.

To lead her deeper into this than she can understand would be dangerous.

The girl would be googling "double mastectomy" within hours, and parents from school would be calling us to discuss Zoe's "anatomy lessons" in the playground.

Zoe smiled at me, looked down at her unopened bag of doritos, and -- I imagine -- considered whether spending time on this with her mom would be as satifying as a rerun of Full House.

"Well, we girls can talk about this later."

She spun on her heels, disappearing to her room, content and secure.