“I’m sorry, I wish I had better news.” The doctor wears the face all doctors wear when delivering news no patient ever wanted to hear. “Do you have any questions?”
I nod, then smile politely, unable to find the right words. How am I supposed to react? What is the proper etiquette after being handed down this sentence? Thank you? Questions? I have to have questions, right? But all the questions I should have at this moment elude me.
Anaplastic lymphoma… carcinoma… metastasis… terminal... I don’t understand any of it, yet I understand.
An elderly man in a blue shirt smiles at me as I take my seat on the bus. I return his smile or is this all inside of my head? I remember the colour of his shirt long after he’d gotten off the bus, but cannot remember if I’d smiled back.
My head feels heavier than I can bear, so I offer the window its weight and it accepts without protest, the motion of the bus lulling me like a mother rocking her child. Sleepy, that is all I’m feeling. Through all of this, that is the only thing I allow myself to feel. Sleepy. Is sleepy an emotion? I’m not sure, it’s something I’ll have to look into when I have time. Surely it had to be an emotion if it was the one thing everyone felt in the end.
But sleep feels like a waste of precious time now. Even blinking feels like it’ll steal a valuable moment, for they all have value now. I might never sleep again. I don’t want to miss anything, not a single one of these things I’ve never noticed before.
His smile meets me as I step off the bus. It’s infectious, instantly lighting up the darkness that had wrapped itself around my heart. I’d often wondered if I would be able to go on without him. Without him… that thought makes me want to laugh, instead, I reach up to tweak his nose.
“They will start charging you rent soon,’” I tease with a nod toward the bus shelter.
It had become a habit for him to sit at the bus stop waiting whenever I was late getting home from the city. One time I’d asked how long he would wait if I was very late. ‘Until you come home.’ He’d said it with so much sincerity I believed he would wait for me even if it took forever.
And forever was a long time to wait.
“You look tired,” he said, concern creasing his brow. “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay.” I shake my head, smiling brightly as I reach for his hand and bring it to my lips. “How can anything be wrong when I’m with you?”
Someday his tomorrow will start without me and I won’t be here to dry his tears. He will search for answers I will not be able to give. Sorrow will consume him. Our memories will be his only comfort, as well as his deepest pain. Memories we will make today and every day of my life.