I learned what it means to weep as soon as Neil and Erica picked me up at the airport when I returned home from dropping Adrienne off at college. I knew immediately that something was wrong. His face was beet red and his chin was really swollen. He said he wasn’t feeling too great, but we all know how men are; he could handle it, he didn’t need to call the doctor.
I returned home from Durham on a Wednesday night. I spent all day Thursday weeping. I learned through his whole cancer battle that there is a difference between crying and weeping. Weeping meant I was teary-eyed all day, but not in a way that I had ever experienced before. It was an outward sign that on the inside I was really conflicted and confused. More on that later…
My emotions came to a head later Thursday afternoon. I was picking up Erica from school and while I was waiting for her, I was talking on my cell phone to my cousin in New Jersey. I remember suddenly weeping very loudly. She asked me what was wrong and I said I just really felt like something was wrong with Neil.
To understand what happened next, I have to first explain his chemo process. He was on a chemo pump that was hooked up to a port in his neck every two weeks. He would go in on a Monday for blood work, go in Tuesday to get hooked up to the pump, and then he would walk around with the pump until Friday morning when he would then go in and have the pump removed. He repeated this process every other week.
Back to the weeping. Later Thursday night, Neil finally asked for a Priesthood blessing. He wasn’t okay, but he had an appointment the next morning to have his chemo pump removed, so he would tell the nurses about how he was feeling.
He called me around 11:00 am on Friday to tell me that he was in the emergency room. He said the nurses took one look at him and immediately took him down to the ER. (Luckily, he was treated at a cancer center that is associated with a hospital.) He had a CT Scan of his neck, and after staying in the ER all day having test after test, it was concluded that he had a blood clot in his jugular vein. That explained why his head was so red and his neck was about five times its regular size.
The clot was the result of some type of problem with the port in his neck. He was admitted to ICU Friday night and immediately put on blood thinners. He was in the hospital for seven days.
If someone were to tell me that one day my husband would be in ICU with cancer and a life-threatening blood clot, I would tell them that they had better have the Valium ready for me. However, that was not the case. Throughout the whole event, I wept, but I was so calm. I even kept saying that I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t freaking out. It just didn’t make sense to me! I’m Italian, for heaven’s sake! I freak out about everything!
I really believe that weeping was my body’s way of releasing the emotion of “why am I not freaking out,” but also a sign that deep down, I knew everything was going to be okay. I was trying to wrap my mind around the fact that it was actually possible to be calm and physically feel the prayers of other people affecting my life.
Needless to say, I didn’t have time to think about Adrienne and whether or not she was adjusting to college life. Not only did I feel peaceful about the situation with Neil, but I also felt at peace with her. Once again, I knew her new church family would sustain her, and they did. The best part is that once Neil was well again, he travelled for work to North Carolina and got to see Adrienne while she was on a rafting trip with her church friends. Those great people who prayed for a sick father and his daughter were able to witness that dad and daughter run up to each other and embrace. They wept, with joy.