I sat by her bedside for hours, stroking her left hand where it lay limp against the rumpled blue sheet. I couldn’t stop staring at her breasts. I remembered how they cradled my head while I wept at the death of my mother. The very same breasts fed our daughter Dani. Now the doctors say they are cancerous. Organs that once nurtured life had become advocates of death. At the thought of death my blood ran cold and I shivered. My stomach began to churn and I made it to the sink just as it relieved itself of its contents. Father, why us?
“You have to make a decision soon Mrs Williams. The cancer is spreading fast and we will have to start the treatment as soon as possible to give you a fair chance of survival.”
Didn’t my opinion count for anything? She was willing but I couldn’t let her die, leaving Dani and I behind. Dani needed her mother and by god I needed my wife!
“What about your son?” my heart whispered.
“Honey, are you okay?”
I looked across to the bed to find her staring at me, concern forming creases along her forehead. Making my way over, I sat on the edge of the bed and took her hand in mine.
“Why us Debbie?”
“Sweetheart, I’ve told you not to think that way. You will get through this.”
“WE will Debbie, I am not letting you die!”
“I can’t have an abortion Darren, I can’t sacrifice the life of our son for mine. What kind of mother would that make me?!”
“I need you here with me, I can’t raise two kids on my own. If you go ahead with the abortion, in time, we can have other children.”
“And if we can’t?”
“We already have Dani, she’s enough for me. There’s no replacing you, don’t you understand that?”
“I can’t do it Darren. It goes against everything I believe in. ”
“We don’t have a choice! If you have this baby you will die. Heaven knows I would give anything not to be in this situation but it is what it is. We can’t afford to let our hearts do the thinking. Dani and I need you here. We can have other children, we’ll adopt if we have to.“
“It won’t be the same…”
“And our family won’t be the same without you in it,” I interjected.
“Oh Darren! Do you think this is easy for me? I’m terrified of dying. My head is saying one thing and my heart, another. I know it makes sense to abort the baby and start the chemo but my heart won’t let me.”
Leaning over I gathered her in my arms and we wept at the hand that fate had dealt us.
We pulled apart just as Dani came bounding through the door, my mother-in-law following closely behind her.
“Don’t jump on the bed darling, mummy isn’t feeling very well.”
Reaching down I lifted her onto the bed so she could give her mother a cuddle.
“Mummy, grandma says you’re going to heaven. Is it true?”
Glaring at my mother-in-law I responded, “No baby, mummy isn’t going anywhere. She’s sick but the doctors will make her better.”
Her eyes darted around the hospital room taking in the army of machinery surrounding her mother’s bed. As she noticed the multitude of cables attached to her mother’s chest, her little eyes widened and the tears began to fall.
“Don’t go to heaven mummy!”
She tightened her grip around her mother’s neck and wouldn’t let go when I tried to take her in my arms. Nothing I said consoled her. She sobbed uncontrollably while I stroked her hair and tried to assure her everything would be alright.
Our eyes met communicating the words our lips could not speak with Dani present. She couldn’t bear to tell our daughter she was leaving her. I pleaded with her to change her mind and knew she had when she nodded and turned away from me. A fresh wave of tears engulfed us both and we wept silently for our unborn son who would make his entrance into the world a dead man.