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  • Jan Rybeck

Vestigial

(note this post was written in March, 2018)



I lost my appendix this week.

Good riddance I say!

Such a scrawny, useless, worm of an organ, who needs it anyway?

I suspect the appendix has been OBE.* for millennia, our systems no longer in need of a tiny mucus machine at the end of our colons. And yet, it was still there, taking up space, albeit not much, with no to little value and the potential for great harm.

If this useless body part had not screamed out for attention, become so angry and inflamed that I was all but crawling into the emergency room, wailing in pain, I would never have paid it any mind. It would have continued to take up space, pretending it had a reason for being.

What grabs me is how the seemingly freeing act of letting go of the obsolete, the no longer useful, the parts of me and life that no longer serve, involves suffering.

Our daughter is getting married in a few months.

We love her guy. We call him our first round draft pick. They appear to take exquisite care of one another and our family has already been tremendously enriched by their union. I think it is fair to say they have grown one another up over the past several years together. I couldn’t ask for anything more for my baby.

So this is all good. And still, there is this pain that pulses deep in my belly and radiates out in all sorts of interesting ways, masking itself as a belief that I need to do more, be more, care more. That if I only keep busy enough, I would not notice the searing blade separating me from a moment in time when I knew my place like I had never known it before, a time when I was just so happy to be of service as mommy. That sense of place and purpose was the promised land for me, immersed fully in relationship with past, present, and future. I knew who I was in those moments, ideals and expectations falling away as the immediateness of connection made explicit what was deeply and blessedly real.

If I were so inclined, I would insert myself in the wedding planning, making a big deal out of little things. I would create drama to distract from the pain… or perhaps a ham fisted attempt at a type of connection long past. Can we go over the menu for a 10th time together to make sure we have it just right? How do you know for sure that the band will play the songs you requested at the right time? We need to make sure the linens and flowers don’t clash, quick, call the florist again!

Bridezilla and her mom would have nothing on me.

But I am lucky in that the kids won’t let me go that way. They are so darn together about this wedding. There is not even a tiny appendix’s amount of space for drama or unnecessary insertion of my stuff. Evolution at its best.

And, I have to say, when I sit with it, I kind of like this pain. It is testament to how deeply mommy-hood shaped me and anchored me in what has mattered most. Sitting with the pain and loving it for what it is, I notice that it settles and then passes. It is both real and fleeting.

The pain is also a kick in the butt to open to what else. Like a stress fracture inflamed at the juncture of what was and what’s next, I am reminded of the futility in holding back growth. Perhaps the pain helps me to take this time seriously for the passage it portends, and the potential on the other side.

After all, in the end, we don’t get to keep any of this. It’s all vestigial…the mommy self, the professional self, the parts of self that emerge in relationship to each moment and phase.

And just as losing my appendix makes me just a little more eligible for a trip into the outer reaches of space, letting go of my notions of self creates an opening to what else is possible beyond who i take myself to be.

*Overcome By Events


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