Eleven years ago, almost to the day, we met standing in line at a German deli. We both like quality sandwiches, so that was a good start. After we chatted for a few minutes, she excused herself to go to the restroom. As the minutes ticked by, I figured she had bailed on me, must have not liked what she'd seen. But I wasn't leaving, not without my sandwich. Finally she returned, and we ate together and talked together, and ...
That was how we met.
Eleven years then rolls by. Sometimes it feels like I've been with her a thousand years, as if we've always been together. Other days it feels like it's only been a matter of minutes.
We have loved one another, raged at one another, held one another, cried together, fought together, snuggled together, shared tremendous losses with one another, and experienced joys with one another.
Then, at the end of that eleven years, it comes down to a single hospital visit for a hurting leg. Just a sore leg. Surely nothing more than a minor fracture. A shot, a cast, a cane, that's all that's expected.
But it is not all that is received.
Stage IV breast cancer that has spread to the lungs, the liver, and the spine. At least it has not spread to the brain.
Chemotherapy treatments will begin immediately, soon after to be followed by a transfer to a special cancer unit at one of the top hospitals in the country.
Survival could be a matter of months, maybe a couple of years. Some few "miracle" cases, between 1 and 3 percent, have long term survival of 5 years or longer. But even then, at what cost? Surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, pills, needles ... a never-ending barrage of medical treatments almost as devastating to the body as the cancer itself.
It is quite possible she will never return home. And when I am home I see the now-warm glass of Diet Coke she left sitting on the nightstand. I see her night clothes on the floor next to the bed. I see empty rooms and the wide eyes of a beagle staring up at me, those eyes pleading, not understanding.
So, I sit and I type and little else seems to have any meaning.
Oh, yeah, and I pray.
Because there is nothing else to be done.