Autumn Hope Gallagher

A Cold Glass Of Water



“Inoperable brain tumor…” 


Sick. Bile rose in my throat while tears welled up and battled to be let out. My hand wanted to reach out to my brother who was standing beside me, crying… our dad had requested an ASAP FaceTime so he could tell us the findings of that morning’s MRI. 


But I knew. I still know. 


Holding a hand, hugging someone, sitting in silence for more than a few minutes with my thoughts… It will open the gates to the kind of crying that I’m afraid I won’t be able to come back from for a long time. 


Some time in my teens, I learned a trick to keep myself from crying - a glass of cold water. Holding it in your hand helps give your skin something else to focus on, and when the tears threaten to be let loose, take a few swallows of the water. If it’s cold enough, it’ll do the trick. At least it has for me, without fail, for years. I’m sure there’s some kind of science behind it, but I’m too tired to read about it. 


Tomorrow, we leave for the Twin Cities for care that may be dad’s only chance… I’m leaving my two boys in the care of my husband’s parents. We don’t know what to expect, so I’m preparing my mind to see my dad in a hospital gown, looking helpless. I’m preparing to be surrounded by attendings and specialists and residents who wear the same uniform and expressions that my husband has been trained to wear… they’ll all likely use that same tone: kind, informative, disconnected. 


I’m scared that I won’t have enough of whatever it takes to experience this without breaking.




…I’m scared that this will be the first time a cold glass of water won’t help me. 

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