Tuesday, October 2, 2012

One October Afternoon

I tiptoe into the room and gently wake my napping girl. She's smiles the pudgy, dimpled waking from glorious, toddler slumber. She reaches her arms to me as she does each day at 2:05. We load her half-sleeping body in her car seat to pick up her brother from second grade. Noelle is with us, too. She's four now and wakes more earthly than angelic, unlike her younger sister.

We sing Sesame Street songs all the way there, and talk of recess and the new concept Mr. Cook had cooking in his oven that day in Adrian's class on the way home. They bounce and bound into the house, hungry for a snack, where Mike has been perched on the couch under a blanket for the past three weeks, each day getting weaker, thinner, grayer.

When I have the kids anchored to the kitchen table by milk and crackers, Mike takes me outside to the front stoop. We sit on hard, cold brick steps, and he breaks the hard, cold, ugly news.

It's cancer.

A doctor sits at his desk, file open, and dials, changing a patient's life forever. How many calls did he have to make that day I was in the carpool line? Mike was home alone when our phone rang.

Are there scarier words in the English language?

Inside, it's Friday afternoon, and our children are catching their second wind.

Here on the steps, it's a precipice into a dark unknown and we catch our breath and each other's hand.

We linger quietly with our thoughts rattling inside. We smile wan smiles as if to bolster each other, and slip back through the front door hoping for the life we'd always known.

It's been ten years since that beautiful October afternoon when Mike was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Six months of chemo. Two months of re staging, and then a bone marrow transplant. A full year of treatment. A scare or two since, that turned out to be a glorious nothing.

Never has a decade been such gift.

I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.   ~Anne of Green Gables

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