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Monday, January 12, 2015

But First…


Today I had my first mammogram.

I wasn’t looking forward to it but it had to be done. Unexciting medical procedures save lives and this lady wants her life for as long as possible.

This reminds me of so many other firsts:

My first wobbly steps. (Well, I don’t remember them but clearly I took them because I walk fine now.)

My first time riding a bike. (Technically I don’t remember this exact moment, either. But it’s such a milestone so it warrants a mention. What I do remember about learning to ride a bike is this: I was a shy kid, not at all a daredevil, and I was quite nervous about riding a bike. How on earth would it stay up? It took me a long time to believe that this could work. Ditto for first swim.)

My first time driving. (I was 15 in a big, empty parking lot and Dad told me to just steer around for a while. The accelerator was surprisingly sensitive. Did not hit any trees, fences or walls. Go, me!)

My first time falling in love. (Age 19. Fell madly in love. It’s an amazing feeling. We humans are meant to connect with others in an intense way. It crashed and burned two years later and I was heartbroken. But at least I tried. I didn’t let fear keep me from falling deep. It seems like all of these firsts involve risk and falling, and getting back up again. Some firsts are harder than others but you keep trying.)

The first time I talked to my future husband. (I saw him before I talked to him and I thought, “WOW—who is that?!” Lucky me, I soon discovered that his friendly ways and funny personality grabbed me as much as his looks did. I had met The One.)

When I had my first child. (The love you feel for your child is overwhelming. It’s exhausting to parent a newborn but it’s full of wonder, too. He was, and is, a treasure, full of surprises. When I had my first daughter, and my second, the joy and awe were just as amazing as the first time. But now we had pink clothes.)

The first time my birthday had a “4” at the beginning of it. (A year ago. I dreaded it, I really did. Aging is hard on the ego—I don’t care how many cutesy sayings you can find about the wisdom you earn with age. It’s still hard. But I am glad to say that turning 40 wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.) Which brings me to…

My first mammogram. (Once you’re 40, you need to do this. I’ve been a bit sluggish in making the appointment but it’s time. I was a little nervous but I wasn’t dreading it. I’m grateful we have such good medical care in this country, and I need to take advantage of that. I can say that while it was somewhat uncomfortable it was really no big deal and if anyone reading this is over 40—or has a family history of breast cancer—and hasn’t gone, please make an appointment. I’ve been much more anxious during other medical and dental procedures. This was no biggie.)

Other firsts come to mind: the first time my son rode his bike. My daughter’s first overnight at a friend’s. My youngest child's first day of school. I hope there are a lot more firsts in my life. I want to learn new skills and new art techniques. I’m excited for the day when my nephew gets his first tooth, takes his first steps and the first time he comes up with a half-gibberish nickname for me.

Firsts can be scary, no doubt. New things are unfamiliar. But even the ones we dread may provide some silver lining. Let’s celebrate those milestones.

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