It had really begun more than thirty years ago, she said, with one of those god-awful perfect courtships you hear about. We were both so young. I being only sixteen while he was, to my mind, a wordly and sophisticated nineteen. There was none of that drama of parents not approving of him, nor was there a need for a hurried marriage.
He waited until I was eighteen to propose and we were married within the year. I suppose we lived a rather charmed existence. Oh, we had our struggles, but they weren’t anything more than we could bear together. Honestly, they seem rather laughable now. Bouts of unemployment, injuries, accidents they’re all rather inconsequential aren’t they?
Susan paused in her reminiscing for a moment then began telling him it was hard to not feel on the spot, vulnerable and even a bit ashamed of her own heartbreak in the face of someone whose trials in life had been far more complex and traumatic than her own. Christopher, in all his tattered garb, merely reached out and held her hand.
Tears gathered once again in her eyes and began the slow march down her cheeks. Memories came to her mind, a never ending landscape of beauty and pain she felt strangely good in talking about. Never did he flinch from her speaking of the goodness of her husband, the fight they had over their son’s choice in profession but instead sat in quiet repose, alert and attentive. But now she discovered her throat to be dry, sore, and she took a sip of the now cool tea and steadied herself.
The illness, she said, wasn’t diagnosed until far too late. I remember the day he came to me, home early from work, and took me to bed. It was a rare treat for us, despite our children being grown and gone, we would spend our days together out of doors or perhaps playing a game of some sort. He loved Gin Rummy- he always won. But this day, I remember seeing him and thinking to myself how desperate he seemed. When we were lying together later, he told me what the doctor had said.
Less than a year to live. Prostate cancer. Even then I knew he was lying about the time left. We tried everything: Chemotherapy, radiation… The side effects were crippling. A man who wouldn’t miss a day of work before was now bedridden for days at a time after each treatment. My husband had never been heavy but weight still melted from him leaving every bone in his body on display as though he were merely a skeleton. We made plans as only people do when faced with the certainty of imminent death.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for the continued story!
If you’re just joining the story please check out the very first episode of the serial here.