Gratefully Gutless: An Anniversary Story

Dear Evangeline,

I don’t have anything in the house to cook for dinner. “What else is new,” you ask? Well, smarty pants, this is significant because I am finally feeling well enough to make a trek to the grocery store. The only problem is, you’re not feeling well and, as I mentioned in passing to your father this morning, the only thing I would rather do less than drag you to the grocery store in a “mood” is have colorectal surgery. Then it hit me. Today is the day. Today is your mom’s anniversary.

Most people celebrate marriage anniversaries, birth anniversaries (you might know them as “burt-days”), or even college graduation anniversaries. Those all sound fun. I celebrate them too. But March 31st is a day that your mom is very lucky to have on her calendar. It is my second birthday. March 31st marks the day that I was given a second chance at living a real life (you know, the kind where people travel, go to work or school or do something as simple as grab a cup of coffee with a friend). It was four years ago today that mommy listened to that obnoxiously catchy “Pina Colada” song as she drifted off to sleep; only to waken more than four hours later with her large intestine and rectum removed, and a freshly created stoma on her belly to boot. It was the day that made you possible.


Eva paying mommy a visit in June 2014 after surgery #5

Most people don’t have the opportunity to celebrate a second birthday. In fact, I hope you never have the opportunity (unless, god forbid, you are ever confronted with the alternative: take the second birthday). But while I am here reflecting on my fourth birthday, a few things come to mind:

1. Because of my 2011 surgeries, I now suffer from a serious post-operative complication that causes me to look anywhere from 3-8 months pregnant on any given day. Some would call that a curse. I call that an opportunity to make strangers feel uncomfortable when they ask you when you’re due.

2. Most people claim they have “diarrhea” when they defecate six times in any 24-hour period. I call that a good day.

3. The four year-old me is, quite literally, un-embarrasable. I know of a few 50+ year-olds who are mortified by the prospect of a colonoscopy. But I am certain that wouldn’t be the case if undergoing a colonoscopy, under zero sedation, by a team of four gorgeous residents and your surgeon was the least humiliating medical encounter you’ve had in half a decade. I like to think of myself as having the humility of 90 year-old lass with late-stage Alzheimer’s. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, that’s a good thing…. I think?)

4. Most 20-somethings make friends at their local bar, or in the Ladies Room when they’re five drinks deep. The only people I’ve befriended since 2011 are nurses, doctors and medical students. And I can assure you I’ve never made a single friend in a bathroom.

This list could go on forever, but the last thing I’d like to mention is your precocious questioning as of late, which led to your asking mommy, “what is a gray-yard?” (trans.: what is a graveyard) this morning on our way to the grocery store. My response? “That’s the place where mommy feels like taking a nap when you decide to blow your top in the produce aisle. But she’s been fighting really hard to stay out of that place, so let’s be good today, kid. Let’s be good, because today is another day. And we are both so very lucky to have it.

Very lucky indeed…


Happy Anniversary to Me,

Mama Pearce


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