Above arid and baking Boise, we found an oasis, a cabin in the cooler mountains. Purchased three years before Chad fell ill, we were looking forward to calling the little place home after I retired. We were both thrilled with the location and he stayed most weeks while I remained in the valley. For me, the place represented my real life. It began Friday night when I drove up, and lasted till Sunday when I had to turn into a teacher again.
But this was the same time when my husband started complaining of a steady sore throat. Unable to ignore the pain, my husband’s doctor referred him to an ENT for more thorough tests. The appointment had been set nearly a month out, which left him with too much time to worry. Hurting and scared, he decided to visit a rural medical clinic near the cabin. Unable to exactly pinpoint the source of his pain, the Physicians Assistant prescribed penicillin for possible strep throat in case the infection was hiding, and that made his wait-time easier. Sometimes I thought it wasn’t in his throat at all, though it was in his head.
Despite my doubts, I made the decision to cook up a storm during the week of Spring Break at the end of March. If he fattened up a little, he’d hopefully feel better.
I think it was the night I made stuffed pork chops that my husband again complained, “I can’t open my mouth wide enough to eat.” Frustrated by his endless fretting, my sympathetic answer consisted of something like “Take smaller bites.” I didn’t think much of his squawking because he hadn’t stopped complaining in over a month. My vote went to a canker sore deep in his throat that needed to heal.
The first part of April brought the long awaited ENT appointment and he drove down to town. I was in class and didn’t hear from him at all that day. Oddly, when I pulled into the driveway after work, Chad was standing on the front porch watching me drive into the garage. Again, I passed it off as nothing. It was a nice day and he is the kind of person that is always dusting up chores to do, so I assumed that was why he was outside.
As I dumped my purse, bag and coffee cup on the table he came into the kitchen not looking any different than usual. Rinsing my cup at the sink I pleasantly asked him how his doctor’s visit had gone, and he looked at me suddenly with an intense expression reflecting shock and disbelief. “I have cancer”. At first I didn’t react, honestly not knowing what I was supposed to say or feel. I stared back, as his eyes filled with tears.
I wish he could have given me the news in smaller bites.