The day mom was to be discharged from the hospital, a nurse asked me for my phone number. As I started to write it down, she turned bright red and nervously muttered that her request had nothing to do with my mom. Inside I knew why she was asking, but I wasn’t about to say a word. Scribbling my number and playing dumb was my response.
I guess it was a couple of days later that I got a phone call from a phone number I didn’t recognize. I assumed it was work-related or someone who dialed the wrong number. Oh oh. It was Tony. He asked if I’d be interested in going out some time and I explained that right now wasn’t a good time. He assumed it was because my mom was sick. While that was partially true, it was mostly because I was trying to get to the end of a breakup with my longtime boyfriend, Ken. And, well, that’s another story.
I felt a nagging inside. A week earlier I had prayed about whether I should start dating or not, and obviously I had been given a clear sign. I was just having a difficult time bringing myself to be obedient and let God lead. Ugh. I had to go. I had to put my fears aside and go on that darn date. So I picked up the phone a few days later and told him I’d go.
I took mom wig shopping. She needed chemo and expected to lose her hair, so she needed to be prepared. We talked about the cancer and I strongly expressed my opinion about letting others in on the news and allowing them to provide support and encouragement. This was the second time in my life that I had heard my mom say f@*k. The first was when I was a horribly rebellious teenager and she was driven to her wits end. This time it complemented her expression about being sick, doing things her way and what others may think about it. I couldn’t tell you what the exact phrase was because I was too shocked to remember. She made her point. That was the end of those conversations about who she should confide in and how she should handle things.
Another significant moment that day was the drive home when something we were taking about made me cry. I had been strong since the day she broke the news to me and I’d done an excellent job being positive and upbeat that wig shopping day. I think she was talking about ghosts in the hospital and I blurted out that I had recently seen Ken’s deceased grandpa. That was such a moving experience that I was brought to tears while I lay face down in the hole of the massage table. I felt like he had popped in to let me know that I was going to lose my mom but that he and grandma would make sure she was okay.
Maybe the trigger was that Ken wouldn’t leave me alone and I was trying to move on with my life. I was very surprised that her response was to remember Ken will always be a part of our family. My mind shot back to the past when he and I first started dating and my mom couldn’t stand him. And I saw how everything progressed to where she thought of him like her own son. She was thinking about him now in that way, wanting him to be taken care of and loved.
That was also the day I told her Tony had asked me out. She immediately said, “You should have said yes.” Ha! My turn to shock her. I did! I said YES. She was fond of him because he took good care of her in the hospital and cheered her up. She also thought he was Mexican and she would benefit from him cooking us some authentic food. She was disappointed to find out that he’s Filipino and German. Not because she’s racist, but because she had her hopes set on Mexican food! She loved food and Mexican was one of her favorites.
Back to the date planning. Figuring out where to go was a pain in itself. He wanted to know what I liked to do, what I was interested in, what I liked to eat. I had lost a part of myself somewhere along the path of life, and I really didn’t know. Besides, I was nervous, too. Finally he sugge$$$ted a nice, quiet restaurant with a view. Holy smokes. Good idea, but what pressure! Off to find a dress. Then realized it may be too much! Too fancy. Too sexy. I asked the guys in the office. Not much help. I asked the girls in the office. Same thing. Geez! Doesn’t anyone around here go out?! I guess not.
And then I realized, I just needed to be me. I called and told him that it was just too much for me. He needed to pick some place else. Something much more casual. How embarrassing!!!!!
That night finally rolled around and we didn’t have a plan, and I certainly wasn’t about to start making suggestions. He made the decision and took us to a popular, but casual bar/restaurant. Very much my speed. Great call!
We ordered mojitos. Well, actually, he did. I didn’t order anything; I let him decide on everything. I was saving my energy for other things like keeping my calm and appearing confident. I couldn’t even recall the last time I was on a date. This was hard on the nerves.
He was really nice and I had good time. I knew I would, but I just didn’t want to admit it to myself and I didn’t want to get excited. I had come to a place where I was genuinely happy with myself and my life. I was okay with the idea that marriage and a family may not be in the cards for me. I was so afraid that my life was about to change. I didn’t want to take chances. Between worrying about and spending time with my mom and working full-time, I didn’t have much room in the schedule to date. Moreover, I also preferred the safety of having everything under control.