Outside, the trees we planted three years ago are dying. I've faithfully watered them and used soaker hoses throughout the summer. But September has been consistently hot and I have lost my way and find myself here.
Curling brown-edged leaves fill two trees and the fir trees have brown needles. The hydrangea are drooping and even the wild mint is less green.The gardens and trees I usually dote on are no longer a priority. They aren't even a passing notice most days.
My husband has advanced-stage lung cancer that has spread to his spine. Six weeks ago, none of this was known. He will take an MRI this week to see if the cancer has spread to his brain.
There, I've written it.
And the urge to erase it is so strong.
But even if I erase it, it will still remain true.
Now is not the time for deception.
As if the cancer was not bad enough, we learned yesterday that a staff infection, most likely contracted during the surgery to put in a port to facilitate chemotherapy treatments is running through Rob's blood. Early Friday morning found two police officers, three volunteer ambulance corp members, and two EMTs in our living room. This was the day Rob was to take his first chemo treatment. Instead, I heard Rob calling through very labored breathing, Call 911. And I did. All this before a single cup of tea could be brewed.
At the hospital we were told he likely had pneumonia, although the ER doctor had said, "I wouldn't make much of that bit of fluid in his right lung." Although he had no temperature at home, by 10 a.m. it had spiked to nearly 103 degrees. Covered from toes to chin with multiple blankets, he shivered so that the narrow bed beneath him rocked, defying the locked wheels.
And so he was once again admitted to the hospital.
On Sunday afternoon, we were told there was nothing showing up in Rob's blood, and we all began to feel a bit hopeful that the chemo could be rescheduled. The oncologist made adjustments and had everything reset for today, but by Monday--late morning, Rob was told there was bacteria in his blood and that he has a staph infection.
The cancer treatment, so very necessary, will likely be delayed another month as he sits in a hospital with multiple IV lines feeding chemicals into his body to fight an infection.
Meanwhile, the CT scan he had on Friday shows that the lung tumor has grown larger in the space of 4 weeks.
5 weeks ago we were planning a trip to Maine--a trip to close out the summer. Rob, Dev and I on one of our famous road trips we so love. Then the phone call came--before 8 a.m. and so much has changed.
Know that this is the stuff of nightmares and so perhaps it is not so odd that most nights I wake on the hour pulling myself from the same terrible dream of being tracked by a serial killer at night who flashes knives and slashes at my arms and abdomen; thighs and neck--never too deeply.
And I feel the sting and burn--the slow trickle of blood.
And even when I tell myself--You are dreaming--I wake only to fall back into the same scene over and over again.
This is the type of dream that follows me through the early morning as I make my way into a new day.
Earlier today Rob looked at me as I sat next to his hospital bed and said, "We had to overcome a lot to be together. Do you remember?"
We talked about those memories for a bit, pulling forth a few stories from decades ago and then he said, "This is just debris in the road we need to clear. We will do this."
And we will.
The day before we got the call, Rob had 8 inches of hair cut off and mailed it as he always does to Locks of Love. Now there is a stubby pony tale of chestnut hair that he says is difficult to lie on. So it will be coming off.
A close buzz, like my Da wore in the 60s. I've never cut his hair.
Our son calls his Da, the Hippie. He says this with such affection. And I want you to know this: that in all of this terror, there is affection and love and trust and a trueness I have never named before. There is goodness here.
On the way home from the hospital last night, I tell Dev, "We are claiming that hospital room as a place of love."
Each day it looks less and less sterile. More and more lived in.
Living is a a minute-to-minute affair.
There is no tomorrow.
There is now--that is my true North.
And the one simple truth I hold close is that in this often wild ride with Rob, I have never loved my husband more.