As I reached to open the shower curtain, my other hand cupped my breast. In the previous days, I had not allowed myself to investigate it. I gingerly removed my sports bra and turned on the water. A large white bandage pressed against it contorting its natural shape. The sound of the running water comforted me as my hand fall from its protective grasp. The memory came to as I reached to check the temperature of the water, my fingers bouncing against the stream.
“Is it gone?” I asked as soon as I gained my orientation in the recovery room.
“It is. You did great.” my surgeon responded.
“How big was it?”
She squinted her eyes and tilted her head, “About the size of a walnut.” She touched my arm and smiled as I struggled to keep my eyes open. For the first time in months, I took a deep breath. I closed my eyes and drifted back to sleep.
My fingers raised again to the white dressing and scraped at the edges of the tape. ‘Be strong, Mary,’ I encouraged myself as I peeled away one strip of the tape. An eternity seemed to pass as I considered what I might unveil. Another strip of the tape released its grip on my skin with barely any effort. I was able to remove the entire dressing with the next strip, but I kept my eyes lifted to the bathroom window. It was a gorgeous spring day.
I knew I had to look down, but I needed a few moments. I was afraid of what I might see. With each passing moment, my appreciation for my breast resonated within me. I suddenly dismissed its aesthetic purposes and became grateful that it had provided nourishment for my babies. “Thank you,” I whispered as I lowered my gaze.
I stepped into the stream of warm water and lifted my face. A warm rush soothed my chest. I was reminded of the warm water that soothed my sore body after my deliveries, as I gingerly cleansed myself. This shower felt much the same. New life pulsated against my skin.
In the quiet and solitude of the shower, I discovered renewed strength and peace. “Thank you,” I repeated as I felt for the small incision. Again, nostalgia overcame me as I stood bare and exposed. In the sanctuary of the shower, gratitude was once again conceived and has remained with me since.