I was once told by a friend that when it comes to emotions I am a robot. She would often joke about it because I tend to not put on display how I really feel. I’ve always been that way. I tend to internalize my thoughts and feelings and all that is seen to the naked eye is a stone cold, expressionless face when told even the most heart-wrenching stories. Even in said circumstances I tend to give pretty blunt advice not taking into account that people have feelings and empathy is what is needed more than an actual solution to a problem. Behind the stoic exterior I am actually quite empathetic; I just don’t show how I actually feel. It was one of the biggest problems that Timile had with me during our time together. As much time as we spent in close quarters and as easily as she could finish my sentences she would often get frustrated because she often had no clue how I felt or what was thinking.
While working, taking care of our daughter, and being Timile’s support through cancer I kept a smile on my face. I would feel how I feel on the way to work and during the commute home; but the rest of the time I was on. I couldn’t show how watching my partner losing weight rapidly and getting sicker was affecting me because neither one of us could help the circumstances. She would often tell me that while at eighty-eight pounds and bald that she felt like I was no longer attracted to her. I’d look her in the face and tell her that to me she was just as gorgeous as when I met her. I meant it too. On the inside, a part of me would be crushed because the beautiful girl with a bright future ahead of her didn’t feel attractive and under normal circumstances would be at the peak of her physical beauty.
Timile was hospitalized at Roswell Park Cancer Institute at least once a month for about four or five days for monitoring and tests. On these days, I would leave from work, spend time with her in the hospital for a few hours, then go home to spend time with Cydney, and put her to bed. In September of 2011, I was visiting Timile and we were watching something on tv. I don’t remember what we were watching specifically, but a commercial had come on and it had something to do with having children. Timile said to me “You know, at this point I wouldn’t mind having a second child.” Shit. I’ve had my heart broken quite a few times in my life; but NOTHING had ever crushed me like that one sentence. I was hurt because since Timile had undergone chemotherapy, even if she were to survive her bout with cancer she would never be able to have another child. That was the moment when shit got real. I’d known this and we’d even talked about it before. However, you can talk and prepare for things until you are blue in the face and still never be fully prepared for what I like to call “The realness.”
While I died several deaths, and visited all seven layers of hell in Dante’s Inferno within seconds; I looked at Timile Brown with a smile on my face and said “I told you you’d be ready to do it again! I gave you eighteen months. Cydney isn’t even a year yet and you got baby fever!” She laughed and said “You’re right.” The moment was over and the conversation shifted immediately.
What may come off as a weakness is almost often a strength. Had I shown that what Timile had said crushed me our evening would have been morbid and filled with tears and long-term lingering thoughts. But no. I made a joke, let the moment end with a smile, and while she never mentioned it again it played in my head repeatedly. She didn’t need to know that, though. In physics one of the first things you learn is that energy cannot be created or destroyed; they are just transferred or converted or something like that (its been a while but that sounds accurate). If a ton of bricks fall from the sky and hit the ground that energy gets absorbed and it vibrates. That vibration turns into something that I would have learned in Physics 102 but I was a business major so whatever. Emotions work the same exact way. Some people absorb others’ hurt and pain by internalizing it; and it manifests itself in other outlets. Whatever is receiving force does not externally show any signs of stress or affect whether it be the ground getting pounded by bricks or a person listening to another’s inner most thoughts. With that said, at this point in life I’m okay with my role.