She's sitting on the floor in front of the TV. Wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and tape are spread all about as she prepares Christmas presents. She's an excellent wrapper, by the way; everyone always remarks on the artistic merit of the package they receive from her. Corners are always perfect, seams are seamless, fancy pleats draw gasps of admiration if she deigned to create them.
She looks back at me to share a laugh from the antics on TV. I summon a wide smile, quite convincing I think. Her act is far better, although she is in all likelihood totally involved in her task.
Her biopsy was on December 5th, the 3rd anniversary of her mother's death at the hands of cancer. Today, December 12th, we went to the family doctor to hear the verdict officially, even though we already knew. She cried softly; I kept a frozen, foolish expression, trying to encourage the doctor who was also having a rough time of it. He's been our doctor for a long time; believe it or not, he does house calls, sees patients on Saturdays, even gives out his home phone number in instances like this one.
It's fairly easy to bluster, rant and rail at this relentless disease, but initially, inside, when you realize with cold certainty that it has a beach head, that although you will almost certainly obliterate its first tentative foray into your body, your wife's body, you also realize that it isn't going to be over, not really. Something is going to take you someday, and now you can put a name to it.
So we deal with it the same way we dealt with it before the mammogram. We enjoy what we do, we make plans and tell jokes. We go out for dinner, chat with friends and family, follow what our kids do. We do the same things because it could all end an hour from now for all we know.
It's going to defeat us all someday, death is, but that day isn't today. Today we laugh in its face, spit in its eye, and prepare to strike out at it with everything we've got whenever it draws near.