Brandi sat on the bench outside the clinic. The sun was shining brightly, causing her to squint her eyes, yet she couldn’t stop casting her face in the direction it was coming from. She soaked up the feel of the rays hitting her skin, the warmth, the brightness. Her body was so tired, tired from aching constantly. And, according to her doctor, aching from the cancer spreading quickly throughout her body.
It started in her back just a few short months ago, she just felt it. Instead of going in to see a doctor, she threw herself back into her work, pushing herself, driving herself to work through the pain, until it became too much. She found herself doubled over in her own art gallery, unable to move,and scared to death that she might die alone, right there on the cold marble floor.
She and her husband had been drifting apart for months now, too. She should have told him about her pain, but they both worked too much that it was hard to have a real conversation. And quite frankly she didn’t want to have this one over the phone. She kept waiting for the right time, but there never seemed to be one. As she sat on the bench, soaking in the sun, she realized there never would be one.
In the emergency room that awful night, she learned she had the C word. If she had gone in when she first was feeling the pain, they may have been able to manage it, but she hadn’t. She postponed the appointment partly because she thought it would go away, but also because she didn’t want to take any more time off from work. The chronic migraines and nausea leading up to it had required her to stay home more than she liked, and missing another day didn’t seem like an option her clients would necessarily appreciate.
She sat on the wooden bench and waited for her husband to pick her up. She didn’t mind the wait. Not today at least. She knew she had to tell him today, and she wasn’t quite ready. She never would be. Part of her wanted to protect him from the gravity of the situation, as the news had nearly been too much for her. He had been at an overseas business meeting when the trip to the ER happened, and it was fairly easy to keep him in the dark. When he hadn’t called for nearly three days, she felt hurt and angry and then kept it to herself for bitter reasons.
Today was the day, though. The day both their lives would change. She had asked him to pick her up and go to dinner. She knew she couldn’t eat whatever was on her plate and hoped he would take her to the park instead of dining in. Her body was always cold, and the heat of the noonday sun would warm her. She took one last deep inhale in, and this time when she opened her eyes she saw the glint of his sports car rounding the bend. Although they had gone adrift, she promised herself from this point forward that she would tell him everything, be honest and open until the very end. Which wasn’t that far away.
Charles had rushed his morning meetings so that he could get out on time for once in his life. He had invested himself in his position of VP of an international vending company, and it sometimes meant he spent long hours at work. Even stateside it could mean days between seeing or spending time with the love of his life. When she had asked him to pick her up from an appointment today, he was glad for the excuse to get out and see her. She rarely asked for anything, so when she did it was important.
She was one of the most humble and kind people he had ever met. On one of their first dates, they had simply gone for a walk in the park. She wasn’t high maintenance or demanding, and she was excited when he purchased a hot dog for her from one of the vendors. She delighted in it, her smile reaching her eye. After walking a few minutes, she came across a dog, one that was much too thin for its build. She couldn’t stand it. Her hand came up to her chest, her face smushed into pain, and she sat her hot dog down when she thought he wasn’t watching. As soon as they got a few feet further, the dog warily trotted over to the still warm hot dog and bun and scarfed it up. When she glanced back, a twinkle of a smile played across her face and she returned to their conversation.
She hadn’t necessary wanted his lifestyle. She missed him terribly overseas, and he missed her. She was welcome to travel with him but always felt a deep commitment to her passion, and getting in at prestigious art gallery had been a dream come true. She busted her butt to turn ideas into reality, into beautiful reality, and her artistic passion showed through their life. Their loft on the upper east side was tastefully decorated. Her clothes always looked spectacular on her, but he knew she would look great in anything. Every handwritten letter had a heartfelt symbol of love drawn on it, and he loved all these little details from her, about her.
He pulled up, determined to make a fresh start. They had slowly gone adrift, and her chronic illnesses were catching up to her. She was losing weight, she was exhausted, and she took more pills than any human rightly should. He had gotten her in to a good doctor at a well established clinic, but they still hadn’t seemed to sort it out. He was going to make a point to spend more time with her, to call her more often despite his insane work schedule, and he was going to return some of those little gestures that meant so much to him.
He saw her beautiful face, absorbing the sun’s rays. She looked so incredible, despite the pain that seemed to keep her forehead constantly wrenched. She stood, slowly, and he hopped out to get her door. She seemed charmed by this small gesture, but the exhaustion on her face worried him. He helped her in, noticing the band aids covering needle marks from the appointment, and he felt the pain nearly as much as she did. Her petite hands with perfectly manicured nails went to her back when she thought he wasn’t looking, massaging it, and he made a mental note to do that for her later.
He crawled in his side of the car, gave her his best smile, and asked where she wanted to go. Lunch and the park. She was so low maintenance, never demanding and always thankful, and he loved her so very much for it. He called ahead to her favorite little bistro, ordered two meals to go, and headed in that direction. He was going to make her a priority again and help make all her days on this earth as pleasant as he knew how. Yep, today was going to be the first day of the rest of their lives…