Vacuuming up tears


It’s a little embarrassing and perhaps absurd to be vacuuming at 8:30, at night. When I should have been putting my kids to bed. I thought my husband was going to have a friend spend the night with us. I was attempting to find the blow-up bed, then I thought I should probably vacuum. Especially in the areas of the house that this guest would not even be staying in.

Often when I do mundane jobs like loading the dishwasher or cleaning toys at work, my brain goes to a deep thinking place. So, last night, I took a trip to deep thought town. It’s usually not like funky town. I started full-force ugly crying while I was vacuuming. The kids were watching a show…or two upstairs. The sound of the vacuum trumped my sobbing. Not that the kids would notice. They are young boys. Splotchy face, cracky voice, usually they’re not phased. It really was a perfect scenario. The end result: clean carpet and I got a good cry out.

I was convinced that I am going to die of brain cancer. My dad’s mother died of brain cancer. I never met her. My dad was only twelve years old when she died. I have been having a lot of headaches lately. I have crappy sinuses prone to infection, so that could be causing the headaches. I also have a little tumor on my pituitary gland. Another probable cause of  headaches. It messes with my hormones aka emotions. But, that’s not why I was convinced that I would die of brain cancer last night. Within the past few weeks, I have felt numerous knots on my head, above my ear and now above my forehead. I had my husband feel them to make sure I was not losing my mind. He felt them. Validation. They were actually there. He made me promise to make a doctor’s appointment. I can be somewhat stubborn when it comes to scheduling doctor’s appointments. I have made one for tomorrow.

So, I’m just vacuuming away and then I’m hit with a dark cloud of doom and despair. I don’t want to die in a hospital. I’ve been there enough lonely nights to know that despite my best attempts at a positive attitude, hospitals suck. It’s not your home. You can’t sleep. You’re supposed to eat in the same place where various gross procedures have happened. And where you sleep. Or don’t sleep. Don’t mind that pee bag or drain bag of blood. Just eat your d-i-s-g-u-s-t-i-n-g food so we know that you’re not holding out on us. Are your guts working? Why would you not want to get up and use the bathroom repeatedly, the one you’re sharing with that kind lady next door? I mean, next curtain. Way different than a door. No thanks. I would rather die of brain cancer at home.

You, see, tonight I can be light-hearted about my perhaps, hopefully, overreaction to some knots on my head. But, what causes me to go there? A hazard of hospital work? Seeing too much. A roledex of sad experiences. Am I the only one who thinks how painful it will be to die too soon? Sometimes, I just can’t visualize myself being old, like in my nineties. I guess I need to put it on my to do list: “visualize yourself getting grayish white hair and being a spunky, happy old woman.”  Probably with dentures. Who can fathom leaving behind your most precious loved ones to navigate this crazy world without you? I’m not scared about dying or even, Heaven, but I’m so damn scared about the hurt, the disbelief, and the lack of answers for my husband and little boys. My boys still need their mom. One day I asked one of my five year olds how long he would need me. His response, “til I die.” Obviously. He can’t imagine a world without his mom. Nor should he have to. Damn brain cancer. And every other type of cancer. And every other type of unexpected death that makes good people die too young.

Now, I’m not talking about my own, self and Internet diagnosed cancer. I’m talking about the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, who should not have endured the pain they did. Death too soon. And left this world early. Leaving young children to wonder, question, fear, and feel like the ground they unknowingly trusted their whole life just disappeared. From underneath their tiny little stinky feet. Wondering if they did something. Or could have done something different to keep their Dad alive. Or Mom. Or brother. Or sister.

I attended a grief conference last spring where we were learning how to help the littlest survivors in their journey with the death of a loved one. A woman stood up and told the story of her own father’s death. She was four years old and her dad began having an allergic reaction to something, causing him to have difficulty breathing. They called for an ambulance. While waiting for the ambulance, her father asked her, begged her through labored breathing to play “that song on the piano he liked.” She was scared. She didn’t want to play the song. She just couldn’t. Tragically, her father was taken away and he died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Heart drops. Feels empty. So deeply saddening. She was an adult in her fifties, perhaps, telling this story to hundreds of people. Nobody, growing up, ever told her that her father’s death was not her fault. Through tears and a shaky voice, this woman stated that even as an adult, she couldn’t help but think, “maybe if I would have just played that song on the piano, he wouldn’t have died.” She went to a grief counselor who helped her. And she, in turn, is choosing to help others.

I can’t get the scripture, “be still and know that I am God” out of my head this past week. I’ve been feeling edgy, and like I’m supposed to be somewhere different, doing something different. I have a three year old boy who calls my name. Repeatedly. Then pulls on my pants. Then, he will climb up into my lap and grab my face and forcefully turn, and hold my face with his big little hands until I’m looking directly at him. Only him. He wants my full attention. And then he asks me or tells me something that he deems uber important. And I listen and respond. So, I’ve been feeling God nudging me, or maybe tapping on my shoulder. Whispering my name, I think. I just want Him to grab my face. Tell me what I should do. What’s your plan? I will respond. I just need a quick one to one huddle. Bring it in, stack it up with God. But, I’m not God. So, I put this enormous amount of faith and trust in him. Be. Still. Stop vacuuming. Stop thinking. Or over thinking. Be present in your life today. Right now. In this moment. Go snuggle those boys and get them to bed.


*Awkward post-doctor appointment update from Vada Sultenfuss:
I went to the doctor and have a sinus infection and the bumpy lumps on my head are sebaceous cysts. See disgusting definition below. At least they are not epidermoid cysts. Really?! Don’t use the term “pasty” ever. Or cheesy when describing a medical condition.

Oh, man. Clean carpets, and a good cry out. I am awkwardly and embarassingly thankful.

Have you ever thought you were dying of something that you, in fact, were not? I can’t be the only one. Admit it. Come on.
Yuck alert.
Sebaceous cysts are small lumps or bumps just under the skin.(NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH BRAIN TUMORS, Amelia) To be more specific, they are closed sacs that contain sebum, an oily, odorless substance. Sebaceous cysts are often inaccurately conflated with epidermoid cysts, which can be differentiated by the fact that they contain keratin — a “pasty” or “cheesy” looking protein that often has a foul odor.

4 thoughts on “Vacuuming up tears

  1. Man, I love you and miss you more than you know, and we really didn’t get to spend even close to the amount of time together that I wish we would have. You are certainly not the only person in regards to the dying thing, although I agree that being in an environment surrounded by people in not so good health can heighten those senses. I felt things like that when I worked at the nursing home, but also when I was pregnant with the girls. Skin cancer runs in my family and I had what I thought was a close call, I’ll have to tell you about it sometime. Nora cries uncontrollably if I turn on the vaccuum cleaner, I just sweep a lot 😉


  2. brilliant again my friend!!
    And brave to share this!! I think we all go there…to the deep darkness swallowed up by the roaring vacuum or some other life distraction!!
    So glad it’s ‘merely a flesh wound’ and that ‘deep down’…all is well 😄


    1. I have thought about you a lot. I miss seeing your smiling face and the energy you bring. Praying that you know how much love and support the Mercy Fam has for you.💙


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s