In the hall, she laid heavy and limp on the tile floor, illuminated only by the light spilling from the bathroom. That is where the children found her. I was unloading bags from the car, when blood curdling screams made me drop everything and run.
“Don’t let my Mommy die Tammy!” Peyton said. I will never forget the look on my niece’s face, as she looked at me for reassurance. Her little hands patting her mother’s still face.
I leaned her head back in Peyton’s lap and gave her mouth to mouth. She gasped, while her eyes rolled up into the back of her head. She was not coherent, but she would not die today.
As with all stories, they never begin at the climax, for this story started with a pig. I have come to realize through our fight with Breast cancer, when life gets so heavy and sad, sometimes God sends you a pig.
The night before her mishap, my son Christian was studying for a test on China. Tricia and I were cleaning up the dishes, while everyone lingered around the table. In his research, he discovered the Chinese Zodiac and asked what our birthdays were.
“Momma, you are a rooster. You are talkative, outgoing and entertaining. You like a neat house. You like to dress up and go out, but you can be blunt and vain.”
“I can’t get why people believe this stuff!” I said.
Tricia laughed at my denials. “What am I?” she said.
He scanned the page for her birthday. “You’re a pig!” Christian burst out laughing. “You are content and loyal. You face troubles calmly, but you like to wallow in your own mess.”
We laughed as Tricia tried denying she is a pig, but finally shrugged her shoulders and let out a snort.
The following afternoon after a meeting with Dr. Shah, Tricia and I sat in an Italian bistro, over a spicy plate of pasta.
I leaned across the table. “The doctor’s not God.” I reminded her. “She doesn’t know the cancer will spread into your organs and bones. We must stay positive… stay the course.”
She nodded, while trying not to get emotional.
“Let’s just pretend we didn’t hear it…like it didn’t even happen,” I continued. “We’ll juice more, to boost your immune system. Vitamins…that’s what we’ll do. If she takes you off the chemo…oh well..” I shrugged, “we look at alternative treatments. I will find another doctor….Europe! Let’s go to Europe. I’m telling you, we will get this done. I feel good about it.”
She quietly listened to my ranting, as she cut up her pasta.
I used a spoon to swirl my pasta neatly onto my fork, while Tricia chopped hers, until the occasional piece she missed, which she slurped sloppily into her mouth. I giggled and she snorted.
After lunch, I dropped her off at home, and told her to have a good cry. I would not return with the children until after basketball, so she had time to get herself together before Peyton came home.
While at school, I paced the sidewalk praying.
“Tell me what to do now. What do I do?” I pleaded for answers. “How do I save her?”
I passed under the shade of a giant oak tree, over and over as I prayed. I took a breather and looked up to study the tree. It’s trunk was split down the middle from a lightening strike, and it’s root system was popped up over the ground, spreading several feet. It wasn’t a beautiful tree, but it produced many bright green leaves. The gnarly roots sprawled strong and vast, to help it weather a storm of significant magnitude.
It struck me, man did nothing to save this tree. God ordained it.
I had painted a tree like this before. The theme of the painting was a beautiful life can come out of disaster.
God also knows He needs to hit a rooster on the head for me to shut up… in Jesus name, and listen. It was then my phone buzzed, I checked my messages and found a post from my girlfriend Yvonne. It was a poster created at our school and it read, “My child, you worry too much. I’ve got this remember? Love God.”
I breathed. “Okay, you’ve got it.” I said out loud.
Just as I surrendered, I saw a pig. There was a pig face in that tree. I felt the stored up tension release, as I laughed. I took a picture of the pig to show Tricia when I returned home.
But…she was lying on the floor heavy and limp.
I rode in the ambulance with her. I watched through the mirror as my husband’s black car veered into a U-turn, and sped up with us. He texted me.
“I can see her through the window. She’s talking.”
When we arrived, I ran to the back as they unloaded her gurney.
“I’m here.” I said. “See me Tricia! I won’t leave you!”
By the time they allowed me to see her in the emergency room. I couldn’t breathe from crying. I saw her lying on the bed. Her head was swollen so high in the back, and she couldn’t remember a thing.
“Did I fall?” She repeated over and over. “I feel like I fell.”
“Hey Tammy! SNORT!
She did remember the pig.
There are times in life God knows, we need a pig.