Today is a day for just two; any more is a crowd. But Cancer is so present it feels physical, embodied. At dinner, I picture a Sendak wild thing, clawed, horned, and hairy, sitting between us. To speak is to bring him (Cancer) into the conversation. Every bite of lobster, every sip of champagne feels like an unearned celebration under his gaze.
After dinner, when we put on a movie and curl up in bed with our chocolates, he’s there again, like a chaperone, every kiss tentative under his watch. What will the news be tomorrow? Will this cancer thing retreat and leave us alone? Or subsume us?
When Bob and I met two and a half years ago, we promised each other thirty years. We both have longevity in our families, so it didn’t seem too much to ask. Not for two fifty-something fitness nuts.
Cancer had already intruded, early on, when we’d been dating just a couple months. Prostate cancer. Not good, but with a 99% survival rate, we weren’t alarmed. The side effects of treatment worried us more—risks of incontinence and ED. Bob found a rock star doctor and thankfully, was back to 100% shortly after his treatment.
And now this. Cancer knocking at the door again. I want to slam that door and double-bolt it. Stop picking on me. Enough.
It feels like death is always hovering. My first husband died suddenly, eight years into our marriage when he was just 44. (A genetic heart defect, not cancer.) Being widowed young—abruptly—makes me feel like there’s a target on my back.
When Tom died I couldn’t imagine my life without him, but time did its work, and in Bob, I finally found the closeness, the intensity, the intimacy, I’d once shared with Tom. I don’t want to lose that.
Valentine’s Day should be celebratory—and for two. Cancer is not invited.