Back up to Perth. We had to fly. I started to get really bad with flying. I would come undone. My blood would run cold. Like ice in my veins. Fear and Panic gripped me. I didn’t like any of it. I didn’t like where we were going. I didn’t like what we were having to do. I hated leaving my kids behind. I hated what was happening to Dean. And I had no control. I had no control over any of it.
We got to Perth and they started Dean on chemo. Ginny flew over to be with me. I was beyond grateful for her help and presence. Someone to vent to. Talk to. About nothing and everything. Cry to. Have fun with. She kept me sane when I was on the verge of going over.
My whole body came out of rhythm. I couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t eat. My appetite was gone. My body hurt all over. Aches. Pains. Crying spells. Bursts of laughter. Loud sighing. Extremes. Lots of extremes. And swearing. I hadn’t been a big swearer, pretty much ever. But those swear words started to fly. Loud and clear. I wasn’t holding back either. It was the only language I could find that described how I felt. And what I thought.
The docs came in the mornings. They had Dean on their “light” chemo. They gave it over the course of a few days. The side effects came but weren’t extreme. I felt like they were giving us rhetoric. I know this disease. I’ve read about it. I’ve seen it. I’ve smelled it. I’ve lived with it. I’ve watched it come. I’ve watched it go. I’ve been through two relapses and a bone marrow transplant. I know that this disease gets harder to cure every time. Now, at relapse number three, they are giving him some light chemo? For what? Who are they kidding? Are they trying to buy him time? Are they trying to give us false hope? I went along with it to start with. A day after the chemo finished his collar bone became hugely inflamed. It’s already back. I knew it. I knew this was going to accomplish nothing.
I caught the doctors before they came into Dean’s room and spoke to them in the hallway.
“Please don’t give us false hope. I need you guys to be real with me. I know that once you’ve hit three relapses chemo isn’t going to help. I’d like the truth. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I feel like I’m going to have to say goodbye to my husband.”
Unable to look at me, they just nodded with knowing eyes and hung their heads slightly.
They found that the leukemia had spread through Dean’s entire body. It was in his organs, his bones. It had actually broken his ankle. Disbelief. They thought Dean must have had an accident or an injury. No. The cancer was literally eating away his bones.
I knew I had to try to talk to Dean. About him actually dying. It was so hard. Because it wasn’t hypothetical. This is real life. In real time. This was happening now. But how? How do I open my mouth and say everything that I’m thinking and feeling to him? How do I be that honest? I had a muzzle of manners and sweetness. I didn’t want to hurt Dean. Or upset him. But the pressure was mounting, and my words like a geyser were demanding release.
I could see my life like a beautiful doll house. Hanging by a thread. And I held my breath. Because any moment now that thread would break. And my beautiful doll house. My life. My family. Everything. Was going to shatter. Into a million pieces.
I sat in Dean’s hospital room. I hate this place. I hate the smell. I can’t wait till I never have to come back here again. My disdain for the hospital grew exponentially each day. I stared numbly out the window. Dean was sitting up in bed watching TV.
My husband, oh my love. Things between us were getting tense. I felt that I was being prepared for him to go. I think he knew it too. He just couldn’t accept it. And even if you do know that you’re going to die, your will to live doesn’t disappear. I didn’t know if he felt like I was giving up on him. I couldn’t change what I felt I knew. It’s the only thing I knew. I hardly knew a thing except that Dean was going. And God would help me to carry on afterwards.
I walked over to Dean and sat down on the bed beside him. I leaned over and lay my head across his chest. My head resting on his heart. I was surviving. Pushing through. Battling on. Keeping it together as much as I could. I spent so much energy just trying to hold it together. So, I let it out. My heart was bursting at the seams with unshed tears. I cried over him. My tears pouring onto his chest and running down his ribs onto the sheets. He placed his hand on my head and gently stroked my hair. My love, my love. How am I going to live without you? Oh my love, my darling. My heart. How can a heart break this many times and still beat? The tears poured.
I sat up and tried to dry my face. I looked into those blue eyes. Suddenly, sitting there in the bed. Bald and frail and sickly. He was transformed before my eyes. And I was looking at the Dean I married. On our wedding day. In his tux. With his long hair and dark olive skin. Radiant with joy and life. Youth and love. So handsome and carefree. Unaffected by the sands of time, by the dark shadow of pale death. He sat before me, as if not one day had passed since we said our vows.
Tears in his eyes, “You brought me so much joy, Cassi”
I smiled,“You changed my whole life.” My heart swelled and squeezed as more tears fell.
We held our breath and our gaze. With tears full of love running down our cheeks. We completely understood each other. And we felt it. Hearts that didn’t want to say goodbye. Hearts that wanted more laughs. More adventures. More memories.