It was a beautiful spring-like day. Still cool, still snow on the ground but the sun was getting warmer. The melting snow dribbling off the shrinking piles to leave puddles on the sidewalks. Spring was whispering in the breeze, soon we’d see grass and the buds would explode the trees into their summer greenery.
My husband and I had been married six months plus a day.
On March 26, 1999, we’d gone out for dinner to celebrate surviving the first six months of marriage. I don’t use the word ‘survive’ lightly. It was a very difficult first six months of marriage with many adjustments and crushed expectations while we had not only tried to figure out how to live together but also how to raise a two-year old child together.
As difficult as the first six months had been, the real bomb had yet to drop and as we sat at dinner on the 26th we both felt its looming shadow succinctly as my husband’s parents had requested he come to Rockland by himself the next afternoon.
Over dinner we speculated, hoping for the best but in our heads and hearts we both had uneasy suspicions. His mother’s slow recovery from her surgery in January and the fact she still had not returned to work fueled our suspicions.
We boxed up most of our meal and took it home, neither of us able to eat much, our stomachs full with more fear and worry than food.
The afternoon of that beautiful spring-like day my husband left for Rockland. I curled up on the couch a ball of nerves and flu symptoms. Just wanting it to be over and my husband to return home and allay the fears and untie the knots in my stomach.
It was not to happen that way.
Instead he came home and confirmed our fears, my fears, and it was worse than we had let ourselves imagine.
Stage 4 breast cancer, incurable, inoperative, and it had metastasized into her bones. The prognosis was bleak, the outcome seemingly inevitable, it was just a matter of time.
What do you do when the bomb drops?
You cry, you scream, you rant “It’s not fair, why her? Why us?”
Then you put the two-year old in his stroller, put the leash on the dog and as a family you go for a walk in the beautiful spring-like weather.
Regardless of the pain and anger life must go on, will go on and demands that you go on even when you just don’t want it to, even when you just don’t feel like facing another day.
What we didn’t know that day was how his mother would teach us how true those words are. Life does go on. You can live it or die. She chose life.
Post-script – Check back on April 12, 2014, for the next part of this story.