The first thing I thought, when he told me about the cancer, was "what am I going to do with all of his stuff?" Immediately I could imagine the house clean, decorated without compromise. I imagined a bathroom where the toilette seat was always down. And then I looked at him and said "Oh my God." And that was all either of us said for a very long time.
The prognosis was good. The doctor used a lot of big words I didn't understand and one that I recognized from TV. There was talk of treatment options, side effects, and expected outcomes. I think I nodded and squeezed Mike's hand at all the right moments but I really wasn't listening to anything that was being said. I was thinking, instead, about how much nicer a sectional would look in the living room and wondering how much I would get for his Redskins memorabilia on e-bay.
Mike didn't lose his hair at first but he lost a bit of that gut I had been meaning to start getting on him about and there was a moment, looking at the new, slimmer, Mike, that I thought maybe the cancer would be good for us. We'd be that couple that beat cancer with wheat grass shakes and yoga and love. And then I realized the truth.
I sat next to Mike in his cancer chair, holding his hand, watching something important drip out of him as the poison dripped in. And I thought about what my first vacation alone would be like. Driving home, Mike laid out across the backseat, sleeping, instead of the road I saw new skies, new loves, I saw decisions I only had to make for myself.
One arm dragging across my shoulders, Mike's hip pressed into mine as we walked up the steps, slow and fluid like a dance we had been practicing for in our sleep. The doctor said the treatments were working and I looked for it in his face after I helped him into bed.
He slept and I crawled carefully towards him. I ran my fingers through his hair and when some came back with me I held my fingers close to my mouth, put my lips together and blew a kiss. Watching the strands and clumps float to the carpet like dandelion seeds, I made a wish.