Relinquishing one’s consciousness is a strange choice. As eager as I was to have the cancer removed from my body, I felt a palpable hesitation as I realized that the anesthesiologist was going to ‘put me under’– to remove my consciousness and my memory and voluntary control of my body. It seemed a risk well worth taking, but as I lay on the hard table, my arms being Velcroed to the ‘arm boards’ and my face covered with a mask, I had to breath deep… to try not to pull back or run away. To try not to think about what I might be leaving if the whole thing went horribly wrong and I never woke up.
So it was partially relief and partly the effects of the drugs that caused me to cry shortly after I regained my consciousness. I was thinking of how glad I was to be alive, and how connected I felt to my son, who several years ago woke up in an OR not far from me at that moment.
But it wasn’t for several more hours that I realized why I had woken up– what my living is really about. It was obvious to me as my middle name, lying on a red couch next to a chirpy three-year-old, reading her a short book about next-to-nothing. I’m alive, and I’m grateful for it, because I’m connected to these little people and their very large lives. I am bound in love to my wife and children. I’m here, forcefully and gently holding this space because it matters.