Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tick-tock

The days tick down like water slowly dipping from a faucet--maddening, predictable, yet with a tight intensity lurking beneath the surface; it's as if each drip is tightening a screw, or pushing a boundary, and the danger is a sudden rupture or failure.  I don't just mean within Mark, I mean as a metaphor for the situation itself.  It is quietly tense, the waiting is just as suspenseful as waiting on a verdict, and then, yesterday, it came.

Pancreatic.

I was out on the canals, taking a long walk to clear my angry head.  I woke up in a foul mood, one of those days where you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed.  I was angry over the whole situation.  I had nightmares that night, and woke up and cried, and then just lay in my bed feeling waves of anger and sorrow washing over me, as strong as any physical tide.  So, I decided the best plan of action was not to just remain in bed stewing (which I had considered), but to get up and out, and let the wind and the sun clear away the damage.

As soon as I started down the path, earbuds in, Joyce Meyer going, my phone started blowing up.  That irritated me even further initially, until I saw it was Dr. H.  My breath caught, and for a second, I contemplated letting it go to voice mail.  I wasn't sure I could handle the call alone, but that instant of cowardice immediately passed, and I picked up the call.  Dr. H. was as jovial and to the point as usual, "Pancreatic, I'm afraid, as we had suspected, but hoped against.  But, don't lose hope, his case is extremely unusual, so perhaps he has a fighting chance!"  Then, he began to list all of the week's goings ons, including port surgery, chemo consultations, and chemo itself.  I just slowed my pace down until I came to a bench, and after we hung up, sat there staring at the ducks in the canal.

After a while of just feeling the wind and the sun, I roused myself, and called Mark.  From the conversation, I could tell the doctor had not called him.  He had left me to the task.  I decided not to tell him that news over the phone, it was not a kind or caring way to do that.  When Mark asked if I had heard news from the doctor, I said he had just given me some information about changing the appointments around, but hopefully we would hear something by the end of the day.  I know it was a white lie, but it could not be helped.

I pulled myself slowly together, went home and washed up, left a steak for Anthony, and headed out to meet him.  I told him the diagnosis at the end of his work day, when we were alone, and he was finished and closing up his office.  He took it stoically and resignedly.  We both knew this was a possibility, we had just prayed it wasn't, but we knew it could be, so it wasn't a complete shock.  We hugged, left quietly, and went back to his mother's farmhouse where he could rest and I could make him a light supper.

We talked about his wishes, final arrangements, and other things that made me so sad and queasy inside, but he initiated it, and I had to respect him, and give him a measure of control over the possibilities, so he can feel at peace with everything that is going on.  He told me all he wanted done should he lose his battle, and I promised him it would be so.  He said wanted his post-funeral luncheon at the restaurant we had our wedding reception in, so he could feel as if he is there with us.  I cried about that all night, the thought of it, the bittersweet mix of grief and memories of past happiness that would be there, even if he wasn't.

But, I resolved myself to help him battle this out to the end.  Cancer is not going to claim another person in my life without getting a good ass-whooping itself.  It's a dark, vampire entity, and we are busting out the garlic (literally!) and every weapon in the arsenal.  Cancer, watch out.

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