The hardest thing about writing a memoir is discovering things about yourself that you’d really rather not know. Case in point: Back in the day (almost 20 years ago now) I had an umbilical hernia that was strangulating my colon. I didn’t know it at first. I figured I had a severe case of food poisoning. I’d just started a new job and one Monday the whole office had gone out to eat at Red Robin. By that afternoon I felt so sick that I headed home early to crawl into bed and proceeded to throw everything up from the day.
The next day I felt no better. I called in sick and continued to lay in bed. At some point in the afternoon I tried a cup of tea and dry toast. Nope. That quickly came up. I spent the rest of the day in bed sipping water for sustenance. The third day I was still ill and didn’t even attempt to eat. I spent more time worrying if my new job was in jeopardy due this ill-timed outage. The fourth day dawned and once I began to throw up the water I was sipping, I knew I was in trouble. I called my office and told the admin that I was going to drag myself to the hospital. Luckily, she offered to come get me.
Upon arriving at my door, her face told me I didn’t look very good. Reaching the ER they discovered the hernia, scheduled emergency surgery, and set me up on a saline drip due to the severe dehydration. Before she left, my admin asked me if I wanted her to call my parents. I thought briefly – they were in Florida, I was in Denver – I was in a state-of-the-art hospital, and the doctor had already explained the procedure. (My biggest fear was that the hernia had caused some of my colon to die and I’d wake up with a bag that I’d have to wear the rest of my life.) I told her that I didn’t want them called.
Even though she did call them and by the time I was out of surgery they were on their way; I wondered for years afterward why didn’t I want them called? I mean. Who does that? Who goes through major surgery and doesn’t contact the only people in their life who truly love them?
I’ve thought about this for years without really coming to an answer.
God brought me into my parent’s home a few years before I was diagnosed with cancer. My parents have been absolute troopers throughout the diagnosis, surgery, and treatments and there is absolutely no way I could have gotten through it all without them. But I’ve also witnessed the emotional stress they’re under. It occurred to me the other day. The reason I didn’t call them 20 years ago and the reason I wish they didn’t have to go through this now.
I’m a burden.
I don’t know how much of that is actually true, but for some reason it is how I feel. I didn’t want to burden them back in Denver and I hate that I’m burdening them now. They are retired and should be living days that are wild and carefree. But I see the stress on their faces. I hear their fighting over nothing at all. And I know I’m to blame. Not me, really, but my situation. Without me however, my situation wouldn’t exist. So where do I end and my situation begin? And how can I ever get over this feeling?
This probably won’t make the book unless I hear from God on the matter. Writing the memoir shines a light onto my psyche and in most cases I can illustrate an encouraging message that has developed from my past. Otherwise, what’s the point of writing it at all?
PS: My admin apologized later for calling my parents against my wishes but when she’d picked me up, she said she was so scared because I was gray. I don’t hold it against her. Anyone in the right mind would have wanted their parents called. Maybe they’re right (whoever they are) – writers are crazy.