the worry hook

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Phil is home. I am baking, and I do not bake. I love getting to be in control, that he lets me (has no choice really) take care of him. I love that he needs me. It’s a strange thing to think, but I do. So much of the time, he’s the one to shoulder so much, he takes care of things, and I do, I love being able to take over, to step up, to let him rest. To take care of him. I still need him, but it’s so nice to feel like I’m needed, not just loved.

The freshmaker is working full-time, not occasionally, which means the battery of Mr. Pace will die sooner rather than later, which means going back for a replacement. I genuinely hope that’s the worst of it.

Phil still doesn’t want family around, "just sitting around waiting for Thursday’s news." I can understand that, that it brings an elephant into a room, and makes our home feel like a waiting room. "I just want to live my life," he says, "not live fearing the results of the biopsies." The doctor had explained that taking a biopsy from the heart is a bit like feeling your way through a dark room, playing Marco Polo. You grab what you can, and the results might return normal, but all that might mean, she said, "is that we didn’t grab from the right spot." So even "good news" doesn’t let you off the worry hook.

The hardest part in all of this isn’t that I’m alone. It was harder going through this with Lucas because there was a feeling of fault. I felt, as his mother, that I caused what he went through because I gave him the genetics, or I couldn’t house him longer. But, for some reason, with Lucas, I didn’t play the IF game. And that’s the hardest part of this, knowing when to talk, what to say, what not to say, and all those self-imposed, destructive, IFs. I believe, on some level, we all have to prepare for the IFs, be ready for them, without really living in fear of them, letting the IFs infiltrate on our now. "I’m going to screw up," I told Phil, "I just am. I’m going to say or do the wrong thing. I’m going to wait on you too much, or not enough. I’m going to ask you if there’s anything else I can do. I’m going to be annoying. I’m learning here, and I’m not a mind reader. So, just tell me, and I won’t be offended." I don’t know, for once, what to post, what not to post, on this blog because with everything else, he genuinely doesn’t care. Write about his penis, no problem. Write about his heart? I don’t know. The only reason I don’t know is because for the first time, I see that he’s really vulnerable. In almost a fit, he says, "I don’t want to discuss this. It’s the last discussion we’re having about my health! Everything is going to be fine. And I don’t want us living our lives around Thursday. Enough. I’m fine. I don’t want to talk about it!" I understand.

"Okay. How about this, we only discuss it when you bring it up, okay?"
And since then, he brings it up every two-three hours. And I can understand that, too. I hope Thursday brings us some kind of relief. In the meanwhile, I’m going back to cooking and baking. So far, I’ve made a blueberry pie, a fresh cherry upsidedown lemon poppy seed cake, and bought an espresso machine (though, now Phil is understandably scared to drink caffeine or alcohol). Tonight? Wild mushroom tart. Sparkling apple cider. And a toast to good health, even if I’m the one to say it.

***Thank you, also, so so much. I know it goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway. I’m not really good at talking about it over the phone with people. And this blog and the connections made through it genuinely comfort me. It really does make me feel like I’m not in this alone. I’ll never, ever, forget when I was in the hospital with Lucas, and I couldn’t speak. I felt like my only connection was through this web site. And a reader left a comment, "we’re with you here all night." It was the best comment I ever received because I felt it. The fact that we’re, all of us, able to connect in such a profound way with people we might never come to know in person, can really be such a gift. So thank you for yours.



  1. OK so you get a yippee. That's really good. I'm very happy for you that he's home and you have him close.

    If I get a pacemaker will you bake for me too? I'd like some baklava please. (Dark Greek humor…I know you get it.)

    Lots of love to you and Phil.

  2. Your tart tonight sounds splendid.
    I have been reading your pieces the past few days, and keep thinking about precious moments together. That is all we truly have. This weekend I heard a familiar song, sung by a man who knew how to live…"Best is yet to come and babe, won't that be fine?
    You think you've seen the sun, but you ain't seen it shine…"-Frank Remeber this, the best is yet to come. Many blessings for this week.

  3. O.k., let's talk about other things…

    I LOVE W&S and have been coveting that espresso machine for a while. I need more counter space!!! How do you like it?

    One of these days, when we move to a bigger house, I'd love to have a table linen closet, although some of the new W&S toile table linens are fugly!!! They scream "tacky easter" to me. Ick.

    Ummm…tell us more about Phil's penis!!! :-)

    How 'bout a recipe for that Cherry Upsidedown Lemon Poppy Seed cake?

    Hang in there you two! Staying busy is good cuz worrying can eat you up. Things will be fine; of this I'm sure.

  4. Did you make the homemade gooey macncheese? You just merely mentioning it in one of your posts gave me a craving for it and so I made some for myself and my kid and Ive been on the jon ever since. Ha! It's worth it.

    All the best to Phil. He sounds like he is handling it like a normal person would, just enjoy his company and stop worrying so much. Like you said, even with Thursday's outcome you will not get final answers, and you just never know what's going to happen in life, good or bad, so take it day by day.

  5. I, too, am so glad to hear he's back home, under your wing. Comfort foods – even if he's not starving – have healing qualities. What could be more healing than the aroma of freshly baked bread or pie? And what could soothe a fettered brow faster or more completely than homemade soup or wild mushroom tart.

    Thinking of you…

  6. When one of my good friends had a major and unexpected brain surgery on a tumor she also didn't want to talk about it during that seemingly endless time of waiting for results. I told her the same exact thing you said to Phil – it's her call as to when to discuss it. Worked like a charm – that defensive place she was in was no longer. Best thing you could have said to him.

  7. You and I met and talked briefly at Pink Elephant back in June. Just got back from my honeymoon and read your blog and wow, you have been through so much. I'm sending positive thoughts and wishes to you and your family.

    And if you're not finished baking, for ultimate comfort food try the recent NYTimes perfect chocolate ship cookie recipe.

  8. I think it is totally disgusting of you to keep your readers waiting for so long with the good news when you are so anxious to drop the bad news in their laps. I will never take you seriously again. You are a shallow, disingenuous broad out looking for as may "hits" as you can get.

  9. you both seem like you are handling this well, and it sounds like you are doing a great job taking care of him.

    re: espresso machine — how about making roobios shots? at my cafe, we make red tea lattes, using the espresso machine to make concentrated tea shots (great for mate lattes too), and then steaming the milk and boy is it delicious.


  10. I bet your house smells wonderful right now. Just try and continue to keep busy with things like that, and like the comment said, "we're with you here", so I'll send some positive energy your way. Hang in there Steph.

  11. Hey Stephanie;
    Remember how you told Phil to talk about it when he wanted?

    Thats what I say to you too, regardless of what any other selfish person says.

    We're here to listen/discuss it whenever YOU want to talk about it.

    Otherwise, we're here and praying, and will read whatever you want to share. Hows Moose?

  12. I'm so glad that Phil is safely home and with you to take care of him. I will continue praying so that Thursday news is good news.
    We ARE all here for you, you can't see us or hear us, but we're sending strength and good vibes your way.
    Another big, warm hug,

  13. Glad Phil is home and is doing well. I'll keep you both in my thoughts for a good outcome on Thursday. Enjoy the baking, I can almost smell it from here!

  14. Stephanie, hang in there and keep baking! Phil, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Betty in in Toronto, the depth of your insensitivity is breathtaking. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  15. Stephanie, please excuse the following,

    KISS MY ASS. Go get yourself a life.
    Sincerely, Julia

  16. I am a fairly new reader and always captivated at how much you are willing to share. Sending positive thoughts and good wihes your way.

    As for Betty in Toronto … this is a BLOG. You know, for personal expression. If you don't like the things that are shared, go somewhere else. SK is dealing with a real life situation here and taking care of the ones she loves first is probably more of a priority than making sure you know all the details to the good news.

  17. Nothing screams "Monday Morning" louder than a crazy Canadian Betty.

    So glad to see this post. I worried about you & Phil all weekend. I'm emotionally exhausted, Stephanie! I need fresh cherry upsidedown lemon poppy seed cake NOW!! And one espresso please. With the new machine.

    Like everyone's already said ad infinitum, you and your family are in my thoughts.

  18. Well!

    I followed a link at Sizzle Says a couple of weeks ago, and have been steadily working my way through the archives (with a break this weekend to read Straight Up & Dirty!). I'm finally all caught up and wow:

    1. your writing is awesome, heartfelt, funny, shocking, real, entertaining, addictive (i could go on and on)
    2. you have the cutest little chickens! (you call babies and furbabies beans, i call 'em chickens)
    3. i'm praying for you lady; you, the boy, and the two chickens. baking is a great way to pass the time til thursday…with delicious results!

    I'm wishing you the best, for whatever it's worth.

    and what's up with that betty lady? what a ho.

    Sending out a virtual hug-

  19. Sighing a big sigh of relief to know you are all home together. I definitely thought about you all this weekend and will be out here in internet land with you all in my thoughts on Thursday.

  20. All I can say is that I've been there. I baked up a storm and tried not to coddle (too much). I'm glad that you have your blog and your readers to lay your fears upon. Much love to you and Phil.

  21. Thanks for the hug Connie! I worried about this family all weekend too [after having sent my best wishes]. It was wasted energy for a person who couldn't even take the time to post an "alls well" note for those of us who where waiting and checking and she knew very well we were waiting and checking and concerned all weekend. I call that rude and inconsiderate and game playing. In my opinion you people are truly stupid if you can't see that! I wish this family no ill will but SK is not the kind of person I would call a friend. I wished her well and she left me hanging out to dry. That is insulting. If its okay with you worshipers go for it but I don't take shit and not comment about it. Especially on the internet! Rather than call me names why don't you explain to me why you think it is okay for her not to post even a 2 or 3 word post.

  22. Keep writing. You've got an audience and the connection is alive. I believe in that power. It can defy science.

  23. Thanks for the update. I found myself coming here throughout the weekend to see what was going on.

    Good call on letting Phil make the call of when you'll discuss things.

    For your own sanity, stay away from the dreaded what ifs, unless you can answer them.

    Saw an interview with Randy Pausch's wife. When asked how she dealt with her thoughts, she replied, "Not now, not helpful." If something came to her mind and she realized it wasn't helpful to think about, she banished it. Cognitive therapy at its finest.

    From NYC, a toast to good health…

  24. You and Phil continue to be in my thoughts.

    Betty From Toronto:

    This isn't a delayed season of The Sopranos. It's someone's LIFE. Sorry you didn't get your entertainment fix fast enough.

  25. Wow..some readers of yours have serious issues.

    I'm glad Phil's at home and I'm positive that the results will be good….and if not, I'm sure they will be encouraging. And you should concentrate on the positive thoughts..things WILL be ok!

  26. I read Greek Tragedy religiously and have of course read the 2 books. I've been busy for awhile and hadn't read and then I come back to this! Thoughts are with you.

  27. Stephanie:

    So glad to hear Phil is home! At my bridal shower on Saturday my friends and I were talking about how worried we were about you and Phil and we don't even know you personally! You've certainly touched many lives. You'll remain in my thoughts and prayers.


  28. I am glad you are home, and that Phil is also home, where he can rest and have some quiet, in comfortable and familiar surroundings that don't beep and smell like rubbing alcohol.

    Take care, we are thinking of you.

  29. If all you are doing is waiting, it may be helpful to escape, and if you can do that with your delicious baking and cooking – great!

    In my experience, instead of walking on eggshells, it's usually easier for everyone to try and go on with life as usual: play with the kiddos, watch a movie, organize your vacation pictures, maybe even thinking about the next vacation.

    Good luck with everything, I hope the worst is over!

  30. Glad to hear Phil is at home and doing well… and you keeping busy :-) I also baked this weekend. I know that without family around is tough on everyone, but I understand about the waiting room scenario!

    I logged in a few times during the weekend to check on updates… Not seeing one I assumed that everything was ok! I understand that you were probably very busy between Phil and the kids. People need to realize that your family comes first… then your online family!

    Good wishes and prayers…

  31. Betty……….do you think she has a lot on her plate to deal with at this time? Come on……read the "trashy mags" if you need your fix of entertainment. This is someone's life we are talking about.

  32. Always better to be home with home-baked meals than in a sterile hospital with plastic trays of mush. Phil is lucky to have you. I wish both of you the best news on Thursday.

  33. I am going in for a biopsy of my own next week. I'm 31 and the mother of a 14 month old. Bladder cancer they think. Here's hoping that in my case and in Phil's case – it's no big deal! Hang in there and what will be, will be…

  34. Stephanie, SO glad to hear that Phil is home. I know – you're scared, he's scared, but he's home, and you've gone through so much together and have come out on top. Wishing you only the best on Thursday and everyday!

    As for Betty, instead of calling the rest of us "truly stupid", why don't you go back and read Connie's comment again; her hug was not intended for you.
    If you can't understand that maybe Stephanie had other things on her mind and was perhaps busy getting her husband back home and settled in while juggling the babies – with NO family around to help – than you are truly twisted to be this angry and think that it's all about you. Poor Betty. How sad for you.

  35. I'm so happy to hear Phil is home & you are taking care of him. As much as he might hate it -I know what a great feeling it is to be able to take care of the one you love. The IF'S are the worse, try not to drive yourself crazy with the "what if this" "what if that" – it's so draining.
    I hope you get the answers you are looking for on Thursday and this waiting game will be put to rest. In the meantime, bake away!

  36. I don't know much about baking, but as far as comfort food goes, the best thing I can think of is Potatos Maxim.

    I only read very few personal blogs, and I often find it weird how much I actually care when something "happens" to one of them, but I, and surely many many other readers, genuinely do. When I was ill myself, relatives that I don't even know very well came out of the woodwork and where there for me, and even a neighbor I met only a few times said she prayed for me. I guess it's sort of like that.

  37. Yikes.. I hadn't read you in a few weeks and when I finally do, there's another big health problem. You're all in my prayers; I wish I could bring you supper.

  38. I've been reading your blog for awhile now, since before Phil and pre-tater tots and NYC living. Possibly from the beginning, I'm guessing several years. On occasion I've been snarky (but hopefully never mean) with my comments, but for the most part a lurker. At the beginning, your writing amazed me. Now, it's your strength.

    Good vibes and lotsa prayers to you & your family.

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