From the Waiting Room…

Hi, it’s Jorge. If we haven’t met, I’m Liza’s husband. I’m writing this from the waiting room. Liza’s been in active surgery for almost four and a half hours now and they’re about halfway through. Weird getting calls on my cell phone from her surgeons in the operating room, but they tell me everything’s going well and “She’s doing nicely”.

I asked Liza if I could be a guest blogger today. Wasn’t sure what I was going to say and, in some part, I’m still not sure but here we go…

Liza updated our will last week.

One of the biggest differences between Liza and myself is how we approach time. She’s far more present oriented than I am. If there’s something that can be done now, why not do it now? Where as I tend to ask, why not do it when it’s more convenient?

Some of you can probably imagine how frustrating it would be to be married to me. But some of you are exactly like me. I don’t want to do something if all it’s going to do is frustrate me. I’m all for a challenge. I’m all for doing something not because it’s easy but because it has to be done. But, to me, there’s a difference between doing something that’s hard or difficult and doing something that’s aggravating.

I tend to wait for signs before I act. Almost eight years ago, I turned to Liza and said something along the lines of “I don’t think I want to keep teaching theater”. It was the middle of the school year and somewhere back in October I’d subconsciously realized that, while I was a good teacher and a good director, with each passing day I was leaving work a little less happy than the day before. I’d started sitting in on a colleague’s 11th grade programming course (C++ for Beginners) and had spent the previous summer learning HTML while steadily breaking and rebuilding my home computer(s). A student’s parent stopped me one day to ask if I knew where the director of technology’s office was, she had something she wanted to show him. Something that might be of interest to his students. She worked at Hofstra University and they were starting a new, year-long Network Administration program. She showed me some of the pamphlets she was planning on leaving with the school’s director of technology. 

I showed Liza one of those pamphlets the night I asked her if it was okay for me to quit my job and live off of her salary. She said “Ooookay.”

A year later, I started a new career in technology at the very same school where I’d previously taught theater. Almost eight years after that I started working at another school, my fourth, as the director of technology.

And last week Liza updated our will.

I can’t say that Liza was initially 100% thrilled with my desire to switch careers two years and one child into our marriage but, still, she listened to me babble on about signs and timing and said “Oooookay”. She said okay because it was clearly what I needed to do.

When Liza first said she wanted to get her breasts removed I was not supportive.

I think I said the “right” things. I’m with you. It’s your body, your health. I love you. And though I actually meant them, another part of me, a very selfish part, was screaming WHY?

That selfish part completely understood the science, the medicine, the research. It understood BRCA and the 85% chance of breast cancer and how it could be reduced to 1% in a single day.

And, still, that selfish part thought Liza was overreacting.

That selfish part wanted her to stay the same. Intact. From head to toe.

So when Liza decided to wait a few months and process things… I was silently happy. Those months could’ve been the beginning of cancer but I was happy. When we found out Liza was pregnant with Evan, I rejoiced in the news that we were going to have a third child and, quietly, celebrated a further mastectomy delay. When Liza reaffirmed her commitment to breast feeding for a year that selfish part inside of me cheered. Cheered and hoped.

Hoped that with enough delay, she might change her mind.

Last week Liza called me at work because she was updating our will and needed some information. It came out of the blue. Knowing how present oriented Liza is, the message was clear. I might die next week and I want to make sure that you and our kids are okay.

I held it together on the phone. Answered the questions that needed answering. Found a private spot after we’d hung up and broke down. Now, go ahead and tell me it’s natural to not want your wife to go through a traumatic surgery. Tell me it’s perfectly normal to wish she didn’t have to go through with this. To want your wife to say the same.

It doesn’t change the fact that while I was hoping she’d change her mind, Liza was desperately hoping she wouldn’t get cancer.

I’m writing this because my wife is not only the bravest woman I know, but also because she’s the most honest. She’s shared the truth about what it’s like to make a decision like this. Shared it with family, friends and complete strangers– who all might have to make a similar choice one day. I want to be honest too. For the folks who might wind up riding shotgun with their own partner one day.

To those folks… you may find yourself in a conversation with the selfish part of you. When that happens… Punch it in the face. Stomp on its head. Because whatever it’s saying, it’s wrong.

Liza’s made the brave choice and physical sacrifice to live. She’s made the hard choice. The difficult choice. The AGGRAVATING choice. For me, for Joli, for Jada, for Evan.

And all I’ll ever be able to do to thank her is to be honest, to be close and to be better.

I love you, Liza Talusan. I always will. Always.

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12 Responses to From the Waiting Room…

  1. Meredith says:

    You’re a beautiful person, Jorge. You and Liza are lucky to have each other.

  2. Casey says:

    Jorge, you are such a great husband. You and Liza are lucky to have each other. Take good care of yourself and her. ❤

  3. Lisa F says:

    Jorge,
    Thanks for the update on Liza. She has been on my mind and in my prayers today. You make a great team. You have shown strength and supported one another during difficult times.

    My mother’s breast cancer returned this summer, after 18 years.
    18 years ago she had had the tumor removed, her lymph nodes on that side removed and radiation. This year, upon the harsh news that the cancer was back, she was forced to have her left breast removed. She chose against reconstruction. Her surgery was in July and she has had some complications. It has been a rough road for her. She refuses the gene testing and I have not had it done. I do not know if I had it done if I could be as brave as Liza.

    I do know that Liza is strong and she has has a strong support group of friends and family. She has surely inspired others with her story and Joli’s as well.

    I wish you and your family all the best and a quick recovery for Liza and a healthy, happy future!

  4. Julie (Berg) Krintzman says:

    Beautiful, Jorge. You two amaze me. I’m so glad she’s doing okay.
    I’ve been thinking of you both all day.
    Can’t wait until she’s home again.
    Please take care!
    ~Julie K.

  5. Jenn says:

    Wow….that was refreshing! True and honest…..that is just what she will need to make it through this. She will need all your support but you will need her support too. You may feel at times that you are not doing enough for her….it’s hard when you are the passenger and can’t reach the steering wheel…you may feel like you have no control when she is hurting….The best thing you can do for her is let her rest when she needs to and let her do “normal” things when she feels up to it. Involve the kids if you can….helping Mom will help them too… Your family is in my thoughts….

  6. seema says:

    Jorge,
    Liza has been part of my life since I first moved into the basement in Larrabee Hall. I can’t tell you how much she and I have been through together, how much she has seen me through. And while I always remember you as the funny one, I also remember the change in her after meeting you. A you complete me sort of change. The ground that she had been looking for.
    I think your loving her, all of her, never wanting her to be someone else is exactly what she needed from you then. And it seems to me from the post, your depth of understanding of yourself and her is exactly what she needs from you now. I am so happy you have each other because me too, I will always love you Liza Talusan.

  7. Kathleen Burkhalter says:

    Jorge, praying for her and all of you.

    She’s lucky to have you, you’re lucky to have her. We’re all lucky that she tells her story.

    Angels surround you all and God guide the nimble surgeon’s hands.

    Thanks for checking in with us.

  8. Marshall says:

    Wow. Solid.

    You are a good man, Charlie Brown. I’m convinced we all find each other for a reason, and that we compliment each other when it matters most. The Maker meant it to be just so.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Um…okay. I’ve never cried at ANY blog post in all of blogosphere. Until now.

    That was powerful and beautiful Jorge. That’s all I can say right now through the tears.

    Thank you for also being brave in sharing. Clearly Liza is able to be so brave because of the love and support she gets from you and your/her family.

    xo
    Jennifer (a.k.a Brave Girl painter)

  10. Jen LeVan says:

    Jorge,
    We didn’t know each other in college. .. I was a year ahead of you and was close with Liza during my junior year when we lived in Larrabee basement. Ironically, it was the “quiet dorm”, because I don’t think any of us who lived in that basement were quiet! In a short amount of time Liza became a good friend, and even though time has passed and it has been almost 15 years since we have seen each other, I will always value and cherish our friendship. I am continually amazed by her strength and courage – and the person she has become since those college days when we thought we knew everything. . . and I can see how your love for Liza has helped her become the woman she is today. Like many other have said on this blog, I also will always love Liza Talusan. I wish you and your family the best, and a happy and healthy holiday season.

    Jen

  11. Grace says:

    Jorge, you just made me cry. You are both so brave and I respect you guys so much for making those incredibly hard decisions. Your wife is a rockstar…although I don’t get to see her as she’s so busy, I admire her from afar.

    Grace

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