I have written in bits about Adrian’s cancer but I haven’t written about the beginning. This was the very start – 18 years ago …. but I remember it like it was yesterday!
I was teacher aide in a Special Education Unit. I hadn’t been confident to return to teaching since BabyBoy had arrived. Being an Aide was a good start and the kids were interesting and unpredictable. I liked unpredictable. Not knowing what I would get out of the taxi each morning, when they arrived. It was exciting and challenging and just what I needed.
Adrian was also working at the same school. He had decided to concentrate on music teaching, so it wasn’t unusual for us to meet during the day. A wave, during class changeover or a smile, as I passed him while on playground duty. We had been through a few tough years in our marriage but things were okay and we had learned that together we could face most things.
I was surprised, however, when the principal came into my room and told me that I had earned an early mark and that my husband was waiting by the car to take me out for afternoon tea. Now that was unusual!
We drove to the coffee shop in silence. He had said that he wanted to talk and as it was a light afternoon at school, we could both afford the time off. I was happy to be there with him and was looking forward to catching up, as we had both been busy.
We found a table and ordered iced chocolates and it was only then that I noticed he had a smallish, white dressing on his right thigh. I asked what had happened and he replied that he had been to see our doctor. Words began tumbling from his mouth but they seemed to be missing my ears. I could hear parts of sentences and odd words –
at the Gym …….. pulled muscle …….. lump …….. doctor ……. a few weeks …….. needle …….. biopsy!
Then I heard one word, clearly – CANCER!
It was imperative that I tuned in, I told myself. This was life and death we were talking about. My 42-year-old husband had just told me that the doctor thought he had cancer and that we needed to take it seriously. My world stopped. I felt strangely still and calm on the outside but inside I was the duck with it’s feet paddling madly in the hope staying afloat.
This was not supposed to be my life. He was strong and fit and I needed him because we had three sons between the ages of 6 and 16. No thought at all for what he might be thinking or feeling. It was about me! Me! Me! I didn’t want my life to change. It shouldn’t change, it can’t change – was all I could think of saying.
We sat holding hands as he told me what the next steps would be. He had known for a day or so but I was in shock. I was embarrassed. How could I have not known? I should have noticed but I didn’t. I felt ashamed ….. He was to go to a Specialist the next day. He was never to go to an appointment alone again, I told him. We were a team and team could beat anything.
My life no longer had a direction. It was no longer predictable. Wasn’t that what I liked in life? Unpredictability?
Not so much.