Wednesday, November 8, 2017

That which does not kill you

I had a standoff with a centipede the other night, and it almost won. I was sitting on my couch, innocently reading my New Yorker, when I saw something on the rug moving out of the corner of my eye. It was the most gigantic, legged-y centipede I'd ever seen and I yelped and ran out of the room as it crawled under an ottoman.

Dave was away on business, the kids were sleeping and I was left to my own defenses. So I grabbed a few paper towels, ventured back into the living room, cautiously lifted the ottoman, slammed down the paper towels and patted them. Then I went on Facebook to ask which one of my 1643 friends would be game to come over and remove the paper towel. I even shared an inspiring photo:

And wouldn't you know it, not one of those friends was game to come to my rescue. Sure, some had valid excuses, like they lived hundreds of miles away. My friend Marla went with the #brightside approach: "They don't hurt people and they eat roaches!" Some shared helpful tips, as they still were last night: "Step on it and worry about what kind of stain remover you'll need later!" said Jane. "I always use a heavy magazine or phone book until I hear that crunch," said Annette. "Just take so many paper towels that you can't it and scrunch it in a ball," advised Paula.

Still, I was in it alone, and I was literally trembling. Creepy crawlers have scared me since I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY, and there were cockroaches on the wall in the kitchen when we came home at night and turned the lights on. One thing that really excited me about moving to suburbia: no cockroaches. Nobody warned me about the centipedes. I grabbed a phone book, glad they still existed, plopped it on top of the paper towels and went upstairs to hide.

But I couldn't ignore it. So I returned and cautiously pulled away the phone book and paper towels, expecting smushed centipede, and screamed as it scurried out again. Was it a special, indestructible breed of centipede? I put the phone book over it again. Then I grabbed a pile of newspapers, scooped up everything, shoved it into a bag, ran outside to the trash bin, tossed it in there and ran back inside.

I have had the heebie-jeebies ever since.

Next month, it will be fifteen years since I've faced one of the most terrifying things of all: the possibility of having to sign a Do Not Resuscitate when Max was in the NICU. Fifteen years since a resident saw Max's tiny foot shaking, fifteen years since doctors realized he was having constant seizures, fifteen years since they hooked Max up to all these tubes and he lay unconscious in an incubator, fifteen years since they wheeled my baby away for an MRI, fifteen years since that pediatric neurologist sat with me and Dave in a conference room and told us that Max had suffered a large stroke and drew us a picture of his brain and shaded in the damaged areas, fifteen years since a gloomy neonatologist told me that being mom to Max would change my entire personality.

I remember being surprised, in the ensuing years, that I could be afraid of anything at all. I mean, seizures, yes. Another stroke, yes. But bugs? How could I continue to be scared of bugs? In a way, though, it was a return to normalcy. Life went on. Max would develop, on his own timeline and in his own unique way. I would still have everyday concerns and freakouts, same as before. I would still laugh and find the fun, too. And I would relish parenthood.

I am no longer that grieving, terrified mom in the NICU. I am, however, a person who remains scared of bugs. And while that isn't exactly comforting, it's good to still be me.

Let me try this again: Who's coming over next time I see a centipede?


  1. Not me!!! But I am very proud of you for facing your fears and thriving when things are not always easy. Most of all, I'm proud of you for finding joy in the big moments but also in the every day minutia of life. I bet you even had a few laughs during the centipede crisis. YOU are the person I call when the centipedes in my life get the better of me.

    1. Well, thank you. I love what you said. But are you SURE you won't Uber over, though?

  2. Me! Me! I can do bugs, no problem. I’m totally there for you...from CA.....��

    1. Oh, I do appreciate the offer! That Uber ride might be kind of expensive though. He he.


Thanks for sharing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...