Sometimes I Go Coo Coo Pants
I didn’t realize how much I needed to go coo coo pants. I’ve always been one to hold it together when things are chaotic. I don’t leak easy, correction, I used not to leak easy. Crying was something I comforted others through while I held them or passed the tissue box around. I’m not saying the pain wasn’t there; it just didn’t make a physical appearance.
I remember when mom called to tell me dad was in the hospital but don’t try to come home, it’s late and they haven’t run any tests. This was around 6 p.m. I was on the interstate within 45 minutes and pulling up to the hospital just after visiting hours. The next day the news came. We think its cancer.
From the moment the words came out, my mind raced through a thousand hugs, jokes, late night advice sessions, and I’m-proud-of-you memories. Funny how the heart sends the brain signals to recall the times when everything was perfect – perfectly strong, perfectly healthy, perfectly daddy. Within seconds, I went into auto-pilot. Taking notes, diagraming the doctor’s drawings, contacting MD Anderson, the Cancer Centers of America and more. I looked into my mom’s eyes and saw her entire world unraveling as she sat in the hospital sleep chair. An ovarian cancer survivor, she knew the weight of the diagnosis. She was only 33 when she was diagnosed. My dad was 69. She knew the fight would be harder, longer and tiring. I knew the first superhero I ever loved was in his kryptonite moment – he had never been in a hospital, never been sick, and rarely took medicine.
And so I began doing the things. All of the things. Calling, scheduling, asking, emailing, researching, praying and texting. As family and friends trickled in and out, I found myself swallowing the tears. I needed to cry. I needed to scream, but I had to be strong for mom, for dad, for myself. So, I scheduled a time to get off to myself and cry, but I couldn’t get away from people. People were offering to ride with me to the post office, pick up lunch with me and go to the house with me. Before I knew it, I was doing the Florida Evans from Good Times. After her husband’s funeral, Florida was on the move around that apartment – laughing, serving food and doing everything except letting anyone touch her. That’s how I felt. I knew I was one hug or back rub away from breaking a punch bowl and screaming, ‘Damn, Damn, Damn!’
Within 72 hours I had mom and dad packed and ready for an extended stay at my house. Before I knew it, I had Florida Evans’d my way through 567 days. I just couldn’t find alone time, and by the time I did, I couldn’t find the tears. I was busy juggling kiddos’ schedules, doctors' visits, grocery runs and work. When people asked how dad was doing, I could give a medical report in seconds without flinching.
Then came April 22, 2016. I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea and getting ready to do the things. I was alone. As I reached for the sugar, a drop fell in my cup. I looked up at the ceiling to see if there was a leak, but my vision was blurry. It was the day after Prince died, and I was up in this kitchen going coo coo pants. I didn’t just cry; I sobbed for a while. I knew it wasn’t just about Prince. I knew my graveyard of pains needed releasing. As hurt fell from my eyes, I finally felt normal. I felt renewed.
Since that day, I stopped holding back tears. I’ve walked through loss, betrayal, hurt, friends’ deaths, friends’ hurts and triumphs. I occasionally cry when I’m in prayer for others, with others and sometimes because of others. I cry when prayers are answered. I cry when God undeniably and specifically speaks to my heart. I now understand that strength isn’t measured in how much we can hold back, but in how freely we can release and be honest about our feelings. And when coo coo pants moments come, I welcome them and the freedom they bring.