The journey through the dreaded “C” word.

Letter C

When a word is represented by its first letter, you know it has to be bad. Standing beside my wife’s hospital bed, my mind blocked out the other five letters of the word that had been hanging in the air for more than a week. Earlier in the week, a trip to the doctor had led to the hospital and the possibility of a dreaded word that is whispered. During that week, I paced the halls of the hospital, sat holding her hand, helped by friends, and and stayed by her side. My wife was in a pain she described as the worst she had ever experienced. I’m not good with pain. I’m even worse watching others in pain, especially my wife. I’m even worse at hearing news. That’s probably why I pace. Maybe, just maybe, not hearing something will make it not so. Some things are too scary to hear. It was some time after 7 a.m. on March 26, when I learned the two vowels and the four consonants that spell our fear. My wife didn’t have to say a thing. The “C” word hung in the air. We broke out into a sob as I rushed to her bedside, leaned down and hugged her. I’m scared. I’m in shock. And I’m crying at the drop of a hat. And I’m beside myself wondering about the future. Our relationship is the stuff of storybooks. We met online more than 17 years ago. Our first date was on the banks of the Tennessee River—we sang together and she read Shakespeare. Our marriage melded the lives of four teenagers and two families together. Along the way, we’ve experienced what I describe as a “15-year honeymoon” that was forged in the refining fire of life. I’ve experienced a fire, loss of income and the kidnapping of a child. Nothing prepared me for what I learned in that hospital. A dark cloud fell over me as I walked the halls of the hospital, taking calls and relaying information to the kids. Could this be happening? Could this be real? I know it feels surreal. I’m researching the options. I’m talking with friends. I’m praying all the time. I’m spending time with my wife. I’m sitting with her watching the small ducks hatch and swim in the water. I’m closing my eyes and savoring the warmth of the sun and her voice. I’m singing with her and it’s lifting both of our spirits. There’s still a word represented by a single letter in my mind, but it’s moved up the alphabet from “C” to “H.” We are not ones without hope.