Sunday, September 24, 2006
Enduring Life... By the Grace of God
Excerpt Chapter 1: Freefalling
It was the day before Thanksgiving 2004. The week before had been brimming to overflow with children’s holiday parties. My three young boys and I had soldiered through a full spate of elementary school celebrations. I was overcooked and wilted, but now that the Pilgrim plays and chicken nugget banquets were behind us, I had family festivities to plan. I opened my refrigerator that morning to a cavernous hole I’d carved out for the annual turkey. Twenty pounds of plucked and butter-blobbed bird were nowhere to be found. Uh-oh! I forgot to buy a turkey!
We’ll be cranking out the Banquet frozen entrees, I wearily mused.
What’s the chance of getting a fresh turkey at this point… and how would I thaw a frozen one? I shook my head in mild disgust. Disaster! I’ve really blown it this time!
Just then the phone rang shortly before 9:00 o’clock.
Hello, I said.
Is this Sarah, a woman asked?
Yes, I replied.
This is the doctor's office, the woman continued. The doctor has asked that you come into the office as soon as possible… and you need to bring your husband.
I could feel my heart begin to drum and a flood of fright as the words penetrated. All I could do was parrot back.
The doctor has asked that I come into his office… as soon as possible… with my husband, I echoed.
There was a small pause as both of us, perhaps, wondered if it was possible to just hang up and rewind.
That doesn’t sound good, I said, breaking the silence.
The woman simply re-drilled the instructions. You need to come in to see the doctor as soon as possible… with your husband.
How about 1:30 this afternoon?
We’ll be there.
That phone call lasted no more than a minute. No one ever said the word “cancer.” Both caller and receiver maintained a professional and detached clinical calm. Yet I knew that I was about to receive the abject worst news of my life. I knew I would be told that I had cancer. That cancer kills. And there was the potential for three little boys—all of 4, 6 and 8—to grow up without a mother.
I stood for a moment in my kitchen just shaken and needles-and-pins numb. Two minutes before, my biggest worry was what we’d have for dinner the next day. Now I am certain I am in a battle for my life.
My eyes locked onto a small figure in the next room sitting at a table stacking wooden blocks. It was my four-year-old son, Daniel. He was softly singing a song about a turkey named Tom. Just yesterday it seemed he was getting so big. But today he seems so very small…
(Sad Lady by Schizo o'23, see flickr.com for restrictions.)