When I started this little endeavor, I didn’t really think I’d be excited to get a rejection letter. After that first one, I haven’t been. But I can say that I’ve been contented and proud and slightly disappointed. This past week, I felt glad. Glad because the two that I got this week were a little slice of normal. A reminder that normal does exist (shock!) and that hopefully the better days I once knew pretty well will return again.
Last week I went in to have the right side of my thyroid taken out because there was a nodule on it that was making my neck feel swollen and annoyingly present at the most inconvenient of times. Wearing a t-shirt felt like death, going for the occasional jog made me feel like I was going to suffocate to death and I had a sudden fondness for neck rubs (and I have always hated having my neck rubbed…I swear, I was probably a underling who got decapitated in my past life). Taking it out was a decision that my mom pushed and seemed like a pretty good idea, so we went ahead and scheduled the appointment. Of course I freaked out the night before (the sleeping pill I took ended up being my personal superhero, saving me from a night of sleeplessness) and the morning of I freaked out some more (that is, however much one can freak out before eight o’clock in the morning). But the freak outs weren’t necessary…everything went fine. Great. Even recovery was a walk in the park. Later that evening I went into hungry-hungry-hippo mode and if that isn’t a sign of being well after a neck surgery, I don’t know what is.
Then Monday August the 3rd came around and everything went to hell.
Yes, hell people. And not just because missing my thyroid made me feel like flames were licking my cheeks.
You see, my grandpa had went into the hospital the day after my surgery for pneumonia. My grandpa is adorable and wonderful, likely to tug on your pigtails and tell you a dirty little limerick (Mama’s on top), and just a few weeks from his 83rd birthday. Everyone he meets loves him and wants to take him home and all I know is, I’m so BEYOND lucky to have him. The world would be a whole heck of a lot dimmer without that nun-punching, ice-cream-truck-stealing, “train”-ran-over-me man. That’s why Monday August the 3rd sucked.
I went into the hospital expecting to pay one of my favorite people a visit…to give him a kiss and hold his hand and watch him charm all the female nurses. But we didn’t even make it inside before the nurse pulled us aside and told us that we needed to start thinking about DNRs and calling families…the types of things that break your heart just imagining, let alone doing. As it was happening, I kept on thinking about wrong the ladies voice sounded. How I didn’t like that we were standing out in the hall, crying our eyes out while people passed by watching. How the lady held our hands and pretended like she cared about us and knew what type of a family we were, when frankly, I didn’t even know her name. How he’d had pneumonia before and survived…how he’d had a failing heart since the third grade…how it couldn’t be his end.
Not even five minutes later, that hell seemed to grow into something even worse, whatever that is. While my mom and I stood in the hall, trying to gather ourselves, I got a call from my doctor. I didn’t even make it passed the word cancer before I threw my phone at my mom like it was a virus. In that moment, the word cancer felt like a death sentence. And not because I thought I’d die…but because I knew I’d die someday. I realized then that I’m on this earth for only a short period of time and that chances are, despite my insistence, that I will probably not live to be 114 years old. Life in that moment seemed like a narrow hall leading to my one biggest fear…the fear that’s sent me into panic since I was a kid….death.
August 4th came around—the bright day. Well, not bright. But in contrast to the day before…bright seems like the perfect word. Turns out, the youngin’ doctor who decided my papaw was going to die, had made that decision before taking the time to understand my grandpa’s health records. When his real doctor came in and said “he’s [my papaw] been dying for ten years” our hope was restored, because that meant although it would be a tough climb, we’d have for a while longer. Then came the news that thyroid cancer is easy…that basically I’d been free of the cancer before I ever knew about it. The removal of that nodule meant the removal of my cancer. Taking out the other half is preventative, as is the iodine dosage I’ll have to take. You see, if you want a cancer, I guess you want thyroid cancer. If you catch it (and it’s not hereditary), chances are the fight will be less about the physical cancer and more about the word cancer and the emotional crisis behind it.
But that crisis has felt huge lately, and I’m already freaking about surgery number two. My grandpa’s still in the hospital, still not up to his normal self. The Gauck household definitely isn’t the happiest in the world…we’re likely to burst out into tears or maybe fall over from exhaustion or tell the whole story of the past week in one breath…but we’re getting there. Today, one week and a day later from that day, I think we’ve laughed the hardest and been the most ourselves than we have in this past week. That’s saying something because the thought that I cling to when times are hard and stressful is that there’ll always be a tomorrow. A new day, new possibilities, where you have to believe in positive outcomes only.
So, how does this all play into the beginning? Where’s rejection number four and five? Well, here they are:
Rejection #4 (July 31st)
Thanks for sending me your query. I’m afraid this doesn’t seem like the right project for me, but I’m sure other agents will feel differently. Best of luck placing your work
Rejection #5 (August 8th)
Thanks for your query, but this isn’t right for my list. Best wishes in finding the perfect home for your work.
Let me start by saying that rejection #4 had me a little miffed. Okay, so maybe my neck felt like it was the size the of Texas as I was reading it and I was then starting to re-watch the Twilight series so blood was on the brain (and by the way…currently re-reading the series now; I forgot how enjoyable a read it is and how hot book-Edward is). But the woman couldn’t put a period on the end? Seriously? Am I so horrible that I don’t even rank a period? I’m not worth the time of a simple keystroke? Did she somehow know about my surgery and thought as she was typing it up that I wouldn’t notice because I was hopped up on the good medicine?
After I got to thinking, I realized that it was none of that. It was the mistake, similar to the one I made with the other one. IT WAS JUST A PERIOD FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, not my whole WHOOPS I SENT IT TO THE WRONG PERSON. Wanting that period was petty….but just like how it made me seem, it made her seem unprofessional. A woman searching for someone who is well polished, when she can’t even polish an email. However, I am glad to say that the missing period did mean one thing…she actually read my letter. If it was generic, that rejection wouldn’t have had a period because they’d want to make sure that they reject you with perfect grammar to a T. So that…that was a positive. Once again, there’s a person on the other end. Not some higher fate trying to tell you that you suck and should totally find a day job because writing isn’t in your future…or your future’s future.
Not much to say #5. Just that it was #5, and another step towards my future as a writer.
What I can say about them both is that in the worst week known to the Gaucks…rejection letters felt good. They felt great. They were a reminder of better times…hopeful times…and of times when the future didn’t feel so scary and constricting. It gave me time to remind myself that there’s a lot of fights in life and you have to face each on accordingly. Some are horrible fights that drain you until there’s nothing but a transparent memory of who you were before, and some make you stronger, and some…some are the types that you love to fight because you know it’s leading somewhere wonderful. Unknown, yet wonderful.
The night before we went to see my doctor to talk about the big C (and that appointment ended up getting changed to the next day…hello, sleeping pill), I was up until about three in the morning from the perspective of Beau Gamble. That night I could channel him for the first time…before that he’d been like some elusive (super sexy) character that I couldn’t seem to crack—my brain just didn’t match his. Then magically, it did. I could feel his anger and his fear and his need to hide…so I wrote about it. I wrote my heart out until I was too tired to think anymore and I was able to lay in the dark in complete silence without panicking.
These rejections…what I write…it’s a piece of me. A piece I’m not willing to turn my back on or give up on. Maybe life suddenly feels a little shorter than it did before (going from infinity to 114 to 95 is a big jump in lifespans), but I know that I have something worth working at and living for. Something to make the bad times good and good times great. And probably make me very frustrated. I can also that rejection #6 and #7 and #?, it’s all part of living. If there’s anything my small cancer scare showed me, it’s that you to live the way you need to live, and this is all marked in who I am. I want to live this way.
Well, I want to when I can afford to. *Smiles*
So right now, please send your prayers to my papaw, to my family, and to all of those out there who are struggling with hardships of their own, big or small.
**Also, I want to point out that this is probably rough, but the whole point of this blog was to say what I’m feeling, and I know that if I did my usual re-read and edit, I’d freak out and re-write most of it**