For the last 29 years, almost like clockwork, I received my period.
Like an unwanted gift, we politely made room for each other. Over time a deep respect developed.
Today, we began our monthly ritual for the last time.
In less than three weeks I will have a total abdominal hysterectomy. The hope is that removing my uterus also will remove the constant pain I endure from endometriosis. It will also abruptly end my monthly flow, and all of its idiosyncrasies.
In the last year, my period has been wildly unpredictable. True to form, it came four days early this afternoon. Its arrival startled me; I was convinced if anything it might start over the weekend. I imagined pomp and circumstance. An emotional moment as I prepared to part ways with my menses.
Instead I grabbed a tampon from the bottom of my desk drawer and soldiered up to a stall in the women’s bathroom at work.
Cravings? What cravings?
Driving home tonight from dinner at Mexican Village, I suddenly interrupted Matt and urgently told him, “We need to go to 7-Eleven.”
My directive wasn’t entirely accurate.
I needed to go to 7-Eleven. It was an emergency. I needed chocolate, stat!
I didn’t tell him why. It was embarrassing to say I was freaking out about a candy bar. Somehow I had managed to hide my monthly chocolate cravings from him. Up til now. Up ’til the final hour.
I ran in and grabbed a king size Hershey bar.
As I climbed back in the car, Matt looked at what I bought.
“Just straight up chocolate? Nothing fancy?” He was flummoxed.
I tucked the bar in my coat and smiled. He didn’t need to understand.
Life without punctuation
I wonder what life will be like without a period. No more Costco supersized boxes of mega-absorbent tampons. No more bleeding through on the one day I wear white pants. No more asking friends if they could spot me a tampon when Aunt Flo unexpectedly stops by.
I wonder if chocolate will still taste this decadent, this sinful.
I wonder what will replace the monthly punctuation that I’ve learned to embrace.
I wonder if I’ll miss the cramps that burrowed into my lower back and deep in my belly. Is it possible to miss pain? To feel wistful for misery?
The answers wait for me.
And I am ready.