My appointment with Mr Jaber (surgeon) this week was awash with relief and joy. I hugged him to say thank you, and bribed him into a photo. This man has literally touched my heart. He deserves a place in our home.
Hanson (my fiancé) and I were in celebration mode, but where would we go? What does a celebration look like? We both had these ideas that it had to be something special, and that something special seemed to be ‘out there’, except it wasn’t.
With light and playful steps we burst out of Leeds General Infirmary into the criss cross of people headed in different directions. We skirted around the frantic texters who looked like 21st century statues strategically placed to trip us up. We exhaled as much as we could to avoid the plumes of grey cigarette smoke, and soon realised we had begun to trundle, not skip.
We stopped at Millennium Square’s park bench where Hanson had first sat whilst I was undergoing surgery. It felt good for us to close that loop now that we’ve reached the first milestone. We nodded respectfully at the steps where he’d waited for his mum and dad to meet him. We retraced his steps to where they had coffee that afternoon, and the doorway he’d scurried into to support his buckling legs when Mr Jaber called to tell him surgery had gone well.
Hanson and I didn’t know it yet, but we were celebrating in our own way.
Then, unconsciously, we tuned back into those ‘societal beliefs’ about what a celebration looks like. We’d have to go to a bar, or a swanky restaurant, or a rooftop garden or, or something… But the truth is that the ‘something’ wasn’t forthcoming, and the harder we thought about it the more it eluded us.
Beginning to agitate that we were somehow ‘getting this wrong’, we nipped into a bar where it was standing room only, and the noise of chatter rose high like a flock of gulls. We wanted cosy, intimate, relaxed, gentle, nurturing and vibrant (in its own way), and were too giddy to eat.
We indulged in the beauty of the Corn Exchange for a few moments, but closing time meant there was little to immerse ourselves in, and for some reason a man in a jewellery shop was throwing a tantrum and swearing.
Tentatively I suggested, ‘let’s go home. I know we’re meant to be celebrating but the celebration isn’t OUT here, it’s IN US. I want to go to our beautiful home where we have created everything we are seeking in this moment, and enjoy US. THIS isn’t it.’
It felt a mixture of brave, wise and naive, but it’s what I really wanted to do. The train home felt like it was fuelled by our certainty.
Home: champagne, candles, music, long chats and S-P-A-C-E, felt perfect.
The celebration was IN US and coming FROM US.
It’d have been too easy to pay a fortune for a shallow experience. It takes guts to know when less is more.
- Where in your life do you find yourself trying to conform?
- What beliefs do you have about it?
- How does it make you feel? Do you measure up?
- What will you do differently next time to make it meaningful to you?
Surgery on March 29th involved stopping my heart and lungs and diverting the responsibility to keep me alive to a bypass machine. Under general anaesthetic my breastbone was split in two, my ribcage clamped open, and tissue from my heart used to patch the 3.5cm hole between my upper two heart chambers. Then I was put back together again like Mr Potato-head, but thankfully a bit different.
The whole process to correct the birth defect (that we knew nothing about until last summer) took five hours, followed by five nights in hospital. It’ll be another six weeks before my breastbone is fully healed – until then it’s gentle hugs, fairy-light yoga and woodland walks.
PS – The other good news is I’m back in my coaching chair to support women who want to change how they think, build confidence, live happier lives, and learn how to be their own best friend. Drop me a line if that’s you.