Yesterday was everlastingly long. At the end of it, I stood at our dining room table wrapping gifts to go in a box that will go in the mail next week when we get a free minute. Tim was on the computer looking at a Savage-over-and-under something something with a scope. Because he needs a gun. Truly. This gun is special. A collector's thing. All the other forty-11 guns that he has are special too, for one damn reason or another. I think mostly, he just wants to hear me tell him no. He just wants me to explain why he surely doesn't need another gun. It's one of our traditions.
So I say, "Tim. You don't need another gun," but it's absent minded. I've been thinking. Last Friday, I found a lump. A large lump, to be sure, but still. I went to my own doctor within the hour. I walked out of there with an appointment at the hospital, and 9 days after that, an appointment with a surgeon, 'just in case', she said. So I went to the hospital to do the radiology stuff. And the nice mammogram lady (mammogram lady: does that not sound like she should be singing and tap dancing and handing you a heart shaped box of chocolates? Sorry. I digress.) said, "I need to talk to the radiologist, but do not read anything into it if he comes in here with me." And I said, "Uh. Okay." and wrapped their inadequate gown just a little tighter. And when they came back, She said, "Would you like someone to get your husband to be here with you?" And not realizing that he had come in after I'd arrived and been taken back, I said, "No. He is not here." and the radiologist said, "This has to come out, and it has to come out quickly. I will have a copy of this to your doctor within the hour, and the doctor and you need to get a surgeon as soon as possible. "I have an appointment with a surgeon," I said. "On the 9th." and he said, "Who is it?" I told him. He said that the surgeon would have the report within the hour as well. By the time that I got home, the surgeon's visit had been moved from the 9th to the 2nd. And at the surgeons office, after a looong wait, Mary said, "Debby, it seems like they're saving us for last." I said, "Well, I think they squeezed me in." The surgeon came in to explain that the operating room was already reserved for Monday. He found two other lumps. He explained what would happen, about radioactive dyes, about removing as much tissue as he needed to remove, etc. By the time that I wake up, he will have the answers, he says. and we will know what kind of treatment is necessary. It's going to be a very long day, he tells us, but when it is over, we'll have all our facts. He also mentions that when he sees my husband, he's going to have a stern talk with him. He does not like it at all that he is not here. "He is your life partner," he scolds. "It doesn't matter if he's having trouble dealing with this. You're the important one at this moment, and he needs to get over it." He also asks if I've ever thought of hitting him with a shoe. I look at my ass kicking boots and laugh a little. But I'm starting to be afraid. I look at Mary's shocked face. I look at the surgeon. I say it, "So you think it's cancer?" Pause. "I am very direct. I don't bullshit," says the nice surgeon. Me: "Either do I. Which is why I asking you flat out. I'm not asking you to be God, or predict the future, but you've seen things like this before and you have a strong feeling. What is it?" Pause. I stare square in his face. He looks back, because he does not bullshit. He says, "Yes. We are probably dealing with cancer."
Today with my hands in piles of tissue and gold, glittering paper, it occurs to me. Maybe the surgeon's hunch is wrong. It could be, you know. And so I say this to Tim. His face twists a little. Cautiously, he says that he hopes it is, but he doesn't want me to get excited about that. And as I look at him, a quiet man trying so hard to say the right and honest words, not just comfort me with fairy tales, I realize that I don't believe me either. I go on wrapping.