The loud silence that enveloped my house was foreign to the story of our lives. This was not a place where I ever expected that I would be, although I had longed for it endlessly, especially in those early days. I had longed for it, and now I did not want it. In fact, I loathed it. How could my perfect life be disrupted by what I thought that I had always wanted? I could hear it echoing in from the corners of my mind, in a voice which was all too familiar, that of my best friend Rosalee Crookman, ‘Be careful what you wish for, Tori’!
A cat walked by, followed by another, and another. I laughed out loud at the irony that was inherent in one of my oldest son’s favorite memes. There stands an open door with a clowder of cats advancing into a welcoming house with a caption that reads ‘We understand you are over 40 and still not married!’. Logan had reminded me on many occasions that this meme reminded him of me – his dear old mom! This was the stuff that comedy was made of and that I was filing away for future use. My first career choice had always been stand-up comedian. My current career, cancer surgeon, had only arisen from a passion ignited later in life. However, that was a different story for a different place and time.
I listened carefully and was amazed, as I always was, by how loud the sound of complete silence was. It seemed to consume the house in its entirety, and to ring loudly in my ears. I closed my eyes and let it take me over fully and completely. I acknowledged to myself that it was likely going to become a much more common part of my existence, and I was trying unsuccessfully to accept that. Silence had always been a friend I had turned to in time of need, however I never anticipated I was going to have to accept it as one of my few and longest lasting friends. I reflected on my favorite time to be alone with Silence, late at night and into the early hours of the morning. It comforted me, while at the same time it seemed to insist that I more deeply explore what he meant to me and what we could become together.
As I had done many times in the past, I relied on my good friend Siri to help provide me with what I needed most. I asked her ‘What is the definition of Silence?’. Siri rose at once to my inquiry. She brought Google along into the conversation, and he came up with an exhaustive string of websites, all vying for the definition which best suited my needs. I was impressed by his apparent depth of knowledge on the subject, although I knew he was just bringing the right people into the conversation – he had no real knowledge himself. However, I made sure that I praised him for his efforts. My first discovery was that the use of the word silence in everyday conversation had been on the rise over the last ten years or so. How strange that in a world that was becoming smaller and smaller, and louder and louder, that silence was enjoying a swift resurgence. I wondered, out loud of course, if people weren’t yearning for a return to a quieter time? I got up and began to pace as this often helped me think. I found it ironic that Google would select to epitomize the word silence by choosing to conduct his part of our conversation without sound.
My thoughts rushed back to my current situation; the situation I found myself in that had resulted in this need to explore the relationship between Silence and myself. It had been nearly 14 years of someone needing me constantly; someone needing me to the extent that I was unable to separate them from any sense or definition of who I really was, as a person and especially a woman. I had chosen to have my children on my own, unaware of the extent to which this would braid itself into my whole existence of who I was as an individual. It was a world that I was sure only myself and other single parents could acknowledge – those who were truly alone in their quest to ensure a life where their children could rise to their passions and be all that they could be. I wondered if ‘normal’ families, as society liked to call them, those with ‘two parent households’ or those families where there had been divorce, felt the same as I did. It was one of those things that I tried to push to the side as it was not a question that one could ever answer. Had these other caregivers spent the last 14 years of their lives knowing where their children were every moment of the day, day and night, knowing there was no other person who could account for them? I smiled to myself and thought not.
And now my children, once again, had left me… alone…
Dr. Victoria Jones is a surgical oncologist who lives with her two adorable sons, Logan and Lucas, conceived via donor insemination. She has published extensively in scientific journals, and won research, teaching, and mentoring awards. She enjoys any type of learning and/or self-development, travel, cooking, and wine. She spends her free time transporting her children back and forth between their myriad of exciting activities.