Well, yes, we know he is sick. He just spent 7 days in the hospital and his discharge summary lists his hospitalization diagnoses as: Adenocarcinoma (lung), pleural effusion, pulmonary emboli, acute respiratory failure with hypoxia, lung mass, and brain mestastases. Lord almighty.
We have told everyone in the world by now that he has cancer. Friends and family have come to Oregon from all over the country.
A corner of our cabinet in the kitchen is now full of medications, alcohol swabs, and treatment records. Dan has alerts in his phone to remind him of his pills. Twice a day I have to give him an injection of medicine to keep his blood thin and prevent more clots in his lungs.
We drop off Raine at daycare and then drive an hour to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where Dan spends 3 minutes laying down, wearing a mask. For 30 seconds on each side of his head, gamma rays penetrate to the cancerous tissue inside his brain.
But he looks like this:
He is home. He sleeps in bed next to me, on his back, feet sprawled, snoring gently. He drinks morning coffee and has a normal appetite. There is no longer a shortness of breath. He holds me and he is warm and strong. He laughs and agonizes over football.
At the moment he told me he had stage 4 lung cancer–incurable–I sobbed over and over I don’t understand. My brain couldn’t comprehend.
It remains. I don’t understand.
How are there cells in his body killing him right now? I can not see these things, nor touch them, nor taste them. I have no pungent smell of death. It is normal familiar sweat and deodorant. It is the same gap between his big toe and long toe. It is his generous smile and soft hair. The perfect portion of his chest that my head rests upon. His thoughts are clear, his words to me the same as ever. Determined, loyal, brave, kind, patient, loving, funny.
I know this is my new normal. Living in between it all. Knowing but not knowing. Until we must.
I remain grateful.