Your life stopped one day. It was silenced by a telephone call in the middle of a frenzied afternoon. In the middle of asking the kids not to throw Lego pieces at each other as you wondered, yet again, what you were going to cook for dinner.
The call reminded you of the antique cuckoo clock your parents inherited from your grandmother. The bird was silenced with its bright blue wooden head peeking halfway out of the trap door.
During those days, everything ached. It was why you’d finally gone in to see the doctor. Your heavy breasts tapped pain-filled Morse codes you could no longer ignore.
Endless tests led to the hospital room where you lay. All you heard were the clicking, beeping sounds of the IV pump. The sounds were the new background noises of your life. You gave the pump a scalding look. Wishing it and the army of mutant cells that fought to control of your body would disappear.
You were not alone.
Your husband Ade was in the room. You stared at his face. Though his brown eyes were darkened with worry, his sweaty palm wrapped around your fingers as he tried to smile at you. He couldn’t have known his facial expression looked more like a cry for help.
You thought of all the days you didn’t kiss him on his way out of the house. Just because you were still angry at the hastily bought gas station bouquet of flowers given two birthdays in a row.
“I’m sorry,” you said.
“What are you sorry for?” Ade asked.
“All this,” you said, waving your arm around the room.
Ade slowly shook his head. “For better or for worse, remember?”
You didn’t want to remember. “Perhaps I should have said, for better, for better, in health and even more fantastic health.” You knew it was too late to take the other words back.
Before Ade could respond, the nurse and phlebotomist entered the room. Frowning, he looked out of the window as the nurse performed an oral and anal swab for super bugs.
It was when the search for a viable vein turned up empty and the tip of your index finger had to be sliced and squeezed, Ade asked to leave the room. He had never been able to stand the sight of blood.
You became angry at him. It wasn’t even the worst thing, you thought. When he came back, you didn’t say anything to him. A part of you knew the anger was really about the moments being stolen from your lives.
It was already the end of the evening. Ade announced his departure. Your children waited for him at a family friend’s house. After much thought, you had both decided to cut down on their visits to the hospital. Your youngest was bedwetting again. You knew it was because you weren’t there to sing him to sleep.
Ade bent over and kissed your parched lips. “I love you,” he said.
Your eyes welled with tears. The anger receded. Not far, but far enough. “I love you too,” you said.
For better or for worse, you whispered aloud as he walked out of the room.