The verdict is out, the diagnosis is certain, the sentence is given. Six to twelve months, no parole.
What do you now?
You wait. You wait for the signs that it’s growing; for the pain to increase; for the hints that it’s gotten worse.
You grasp life with both hands, hold on as hard as you can. Every night when you go to bed, you pray the next day will be as good as the one that’s just over; that it won’t take a turn for the worse.
You make plans for the next few days, hoping all goes well. Take advantage of each minute, each hour, each day everything’s still okay, manageable, acceptable.
You live with the constant fear for what tomorrow may bring. What if time’s cut short? What if you don’t get to do that one last thing you craved so much?
The unfairness of it all eats at you but you don’t let it win. You fight it and think of good things; of all that’s left, of all you still need to say. You write it down in case you forget, so they’ll find it after you’re gone.
And everyone around you waits with you. Worries about you but won’t let you see, just in case it drags you down. Everyone’s pasting smiles on their faces, puts cheer in their voices to keep you from sensing their anguish. No one talks about death. No one talks about the end.
Your children are stuck waiting, anticipating, expecting the hurt to be dragged on through the months of doing everything one last time, knowing it, and holding off on expressing the pain.
Because once you’re gone, they’ll only have pain left: hope will leave with you. Then they can mourn and let loose and grieve. You won’t be there to see it and that’s okay. You know it’s coming anyway.
Cancer’s a motherfucker.