PT1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 // PT 32 // PT 33 // PT 34 // PT 35 // PT 36 // PT 37 // PT 38 // PT 39 // PT 40 // PT 41 // PT 42 // PT 43 // PT 44 // PT 45 // PT 46 // PT 47 // PT 48 // PT 49 // PT 50 // PT 51 // PT 52 // PT 53 // PT 54 // PT 55 // PT 56 // PT 57 // PT 58 // PT 59 // PT 60 // PT 61 // PT 62 // PT 63 // PT 64 // PT 65 // PT 66 // PT 67 // PT 68 // PT 69 // PT 70 // PT 71 // PT 72 // PT 73 //
They held each other for a time. Paul thought she was still just trying to come to terms with the information. At the very least, that’s what he was doing. She might have been trying to support him. He didn’t ask. Instead he remained content to sit there as long as she was.
Time passed, and she eventually pulled away. “I have to change. Then you can take me home.”
Paul stepped out of the room and waited. He thought about how best to help his mom, trying to tamp down frustration at his utter powerlessness. After several minutes of telling himself there wasn’t much of a point in trying to do anything but be there throughout the treatments, he realized she hadn’t come out.
He tapped on the door. “Mom? Did you fall asleep?”
“I’m fine.” The response was immediate, but he noted the tremor in her voice. She’d ben crying again.
Somehow, her reply hurt him in a way he couldn’t completely understand. He wanted to be there to support her, but she wanted to be alone to cry. There was some sense in anyone wanting space, but Paul worried she felt like she needed that space. Paul’s mind started gnawing on the idea, but he wasn’t sure what else to do.
The door suddenly opened, and she offered him a fake smile. “Let’s go.”
The doctor was good to his word. When they went to receptionist to offer the co-pay for the insurance, the woman at the desk provided a packet of information about chemotherapy and its possible side effect. The stack of paper, containing information on both sides of each page, couldn’t have been an eighth of an inch thick, but it felt heavy in Paul’s hand. He kept the packet and used his other hand to hold his mother’s arm as they exited the hospital and got to the car.
They drove in silence. Paul put the packet of information in the glove box, and his mother would glance at the compartment’s latch from time to time. She never reached for it, but it was clear she was thinking about it.
The entire trip home was quiet. Paul pulled into the driveway and cut the engine.
“You can cry around me.” Paul spoke before his mother’s hand reached the door handle.
She froze there, looking at him as if she wasn’t sure what he meant.
“I’m worried about you. I don’t want to lose you, but you don’t have to be brave for me. You don’t have to hide somewhere alone if you’re mad or afraid.” He wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t look at her until he’d finished speaking.
When he did, she was smiling at him. “Thank you.”
While a single tear rolled down her cheek, she didn’t fall into his arms or begin wearing. It wasn’t like that’s what he wanted her to do. He just wanted her to know she could.
Paul reached over and pulled the information packet out of the glove box. Then he got out, rushing around the car to be there to help his mother out as well.
They got inside and took a seat on the couch in the living room. Paul, ever the scientist, itched to read the packet. He wanted to understand. He wanted to be prepared. But he codlin’t stop thinking about how his mother avoided it.
“Are you hungry?” He asked her.
“Not really,” she replied.
Paul looked at the packet again. “I understand if you’re not ready to go over that information. We can do it later.”
“When are you leaving?” she asked.
He stared at her. “Leaving?”
“To go back to work,” she explained.
He shook his head. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be right here.”
She smiled, shaking her head. “You can’t take a half-year off from work.”
“I’ll figure all of that out,” he said. “But whatever happens, I’m not leaving you until this is over.”
Her bottom lip trembled. She leaned over and wrapped her arms around him. The shift in position left her resting her head on his chest. That’s when the crying started.
“Thank you,” she said between shuddered breaths.
“I won’t leave you alone,” he said.
She pulled back a bit, looking at him. “Oh, I’m not ever alone.”
He smiled. “I know.” He knew she was talking about her faith. He didn’t understand it at all, but it was something she took comfort in, so he had no intention of taking that, or any, solace away from her.
She placed her head back on his chest. “It’s still nice that you’ll be here though.”
While tears fell, she somehow sounded more cheerful. “I know you want to look at that information.”
“Yes,” Paul admitted, “but I know that you’re just not ready to do that yet. We have time. For now, just rest. Let me know if you want anything.”
“Thank you,” she said again. “Thank you, and thank God for you.”
A part of Paul was upset. He needed to be doing something. He wanted to say more to her, to make her feel better. But each time he opened his mouth, he remembered what his mother had said about sitting and listening.
It was hard, listening to her cry without wanting to go over the information or formulate a plan for treatment, but it’s what she wanted, so that’s what he did.
The end of Chapter twenty-one.
… To be continued …