Is Today Going to Be the Day?
Life Gets Interrupted
She tucked a straying lock of blonde hair behind her ear as she stared out the kitchen window wondering if today was going to be the day.
It was a cool autumn morning with gray clouds covering the horizon. The leaves had already turned colors and most had fallen to the ground with only a few yellow and orange leaves clinging to the branches for a few more moments of life. However, she did not see them. She was focusing on a memory that lay far beyond the hazy horizon.
"How long do I have, Doc?" he asked with a crack in his voice she didn't remember hearing before. He was always her rock when she needed him and she couldn't remember a time when she heard his voice break like this.
She was sitting in the chair across from him, holding her breath as she waited for the reply. Her eyes scanned the room for a place to hide knowing she couldn't escape the present moment no matter how much she longed to.
"Years." The doctor said and she felt an optimistic rush of hope as she watched her father's shoulders sink with relief. Still, a thick, dense fog of trepidation saturated the air that stifled each breath she took.
"Mom!" her memory was broken by her son's voice. "Where are my cleats?" He shouted from his bedroom.
"In the back hallway with your pads." She replied without taking her eyes off of the horizon. She was still lingering on the cusp of the past, and when she heard her son's footsteps retreat toward the hallway, she found herself in a hospital room as she re-entered her memory.
He was looking stronger today. It had been a difficult surgery. She stood at the foot of his bed with her sister beside her. The sight of him brought a sense of foreboding joy. He was weak, but he was here.
"Is it worth it?" He asked as his eyes moved back and forth between his two daughters.
"The chemo?" she asked and he nodded. "It gives us the hope of years. We can make so many memories in those years, so yeah, it's worth it." She said in what felt like a pleading request, but she knew she still needed him here.
She looked at her sister who was nodding with tears in her eyes and then she looked back at him. His brown eyes clouded with uncertainty as he wrestled with the choice of filling his body with poison for years to come or letting the disease kill him cell by cell for an indefinite amount of time. She didn't realize she was holding her breath until he weakly nodded in agreement and fell back to sleep. She squeezed her sister's hand as they braced themselves for the battle they would have to face with their father for the years to come.
"Mom!" Her son's voice broke in again. "Where are my pants and jersey?" His voice filled with a little more panic as he came into the kitchen. She broke her gaze and turned to look at him.
"In the laundry room on the dryer." She answered as she stepped away from the window and watched him disappear down the stairs towards the laundry room. Her eyes started to adjust to the scene around her. Her husband was opening the cupboard looking for his favorite traveling coffee mug.
"We need to leave in about 10 minutes." He said as he looked at her. His expression softened when he saw her face. He felt her thoughts and gently put his arms around her and kissed her forehead.
"I can take him to his game if you want to go to hospice. You can miss one game, he will understand."
"No," she said with a sad smile as she looked up at him. "Dad never missed a game of mine and he would be there today if he could. I can head there after the game. Besides, my sister is there and will call if I am needed."
Her son sprinted up the stairs and looked at her frantically. "Where is my Under Armor shirt? It's cold and it's supposed to rain. I need that shirt!"
She calmly looked at him and said, " It's hanging in your closet," then she chuckled and added, "I swear I need to leave everything on your floor for you to find it."He ran down the hall as she pulled on her hoodie and grabbed her coat.
In the car, her mind drifted to a mirage of memories that filled the last two years. Her dad's smile as he served his famous ribs at family barbeques, his loud cheers for her son, and even louder criticism of the refs during flag football season, and his patience as she took yet another swing on the golf course. Memories that wouldn't exist if he had been taken from her suddenly.
The car had barely stopped when her son jumped out of the backseat and ran to catch up with his teammates. As she stepped out of the car, she could smell the dusty scent of incoming rain. She looked toward the sky and with one hand reached for her umbrella. In her other hand, her phone rang. She looked down at the screen. She gasped in the cool moist air as her heart stopped for a minute then started drumming heavily in her chest. It was her sister. Today was going to be the day.
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