A Little Bit of Death


The wedding was in a rose garden, by a lake, not far from her parents' house. Our vows were exchanged in a gazebo that was covered with flowers. Her Baptist minister uncle married us, even making us write our own vows. "Tell her what's in your heart, not just what you think she or the rest of us want to hear."

Perfect, is how it all turned out. My dad shook my hand, my mom hugged me, my sister told me to go slow on our wedding night, and my brother punched me in the arm, telling me that for once I'd done something right.

"Screw this up and you'll have me to answer to," he said, as Lana and I got into our car to leave.

I refused to tell my new bride where we were going on our honeymoon. The only thing I told her was that it was going to be warm and to bring a lot of casual clothing. I'd saved up more than enough money for what I wanted to do, and that was to have her totally to myself for an entire week.

The resort was on the far west side on the island of Cabo, a tiny island in the tropics. And when I say tiny, it was only three miles long. It had eight huts on each side of the island, each strategically placed in such a way that even looking out when we were on our deck, we couldn't see any of the other huts.

"How did you find this place?"

"On the Internet you can find anything if you know what you're looking for. I just typed in romantic isolated Caribbean getaways and this, along with twenty other locations, came up. I narrowed down my choices to three and finally picked this place." I relayed this to her while looking at the ocean from our deck holding on to my new bride's hand.

"Well, Mr. Moore, you outdid yourself." She wrapped her arms around me and kissed me passionately. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm a little tired, think I'll turn in." I was a little shocked to say the least. With a stunned look on my face, I watched her walk into our hut—alone. Turning back around she smiled. "Well, husband, are you going to stand there all night? After all, this is our wedding night; or maybe the morning after," she said, looking at her watch.

I'd like to say it was the hottest sex of my life—it wasn't. I'd never been with a virgin before, so I took my sister's advice and went slow, maybe too slow. After enough foreplay to get her hotter than she'd ever been before, it took me almost five minutes to get inside her. If I said that she was tight, that would be one hell of an understatement. I got her off the first time with my tongue and the second time when I finally got inside. If she hadn't been producing enough lubricant to float a battleship, I would have lost the top two layers of skin off my dick.

"That was worth the wait," my bride said, hugging and kissing me. "Is it what you thought it would be?" What the hell was I going to say? No fucking way?

"Hon, making love with you tonight was something I've never experienced before."

"That's good, right?" she said, sitting up in bed.

"Not good, great."

"Steve, I know I'm not as experienced as the other women you've probably been with, but I'm excited to learn all about what you like to do, and experience all the things I've dreamed about all my life. So, I may be inexperienced, but you'll find I'm a fast learner."

She smiled, jumped off the bed, and ran over to the small refrigerator. Grabbing a bottle of champagne and two glasses she jumped back into our bed. Pouring two large glasses she handed me one.

"To us, may our love do nothing but grow." She sloshed down about half the glass before coming up for air as the bubbles tickled her nose. "I'm sure as hell glad we don't have to go anywhere. Tonight I want to drink this entire bottle, and make love to you until neither one of us can walk." And that's just what we did.

For seven days we slept, walked on the beach, and best of all made love. I'm glad my sister had given her the 'Lovers Set' from KY because after four days going non-stop, even I was getting a little sore.

Life for the two of us was what I'd dreamed it would be. She got off work at three-thirty, so she was always home waiting for me when I walked through the front door. I never tired of her jumping into my arms, kissing me, and asking me what kind of day I'd had. Even if it had been a horrible day, having my bride in my arms made any problem I had miraculously go away.

Almost two years to the day we got married, Lana surprised me one night when I got home. She was in a sexy outfit—of course everything she wore made her look sexy—with a bottle of champagne in her hands. Pouring two glasses she gave me a kiss that would have brought the dead back to life.

"This will be my last glass for a while," she said, downing it in one gulp and tossing the plastic glass over her shoulder. "So, if you'd like to take advantage of this thin body of mine you'd better hurry because soon we're going to have to work around what I anticipate could be a pretty big bump." I still wasn't getting it. "Earth to Steve," she said, kissing me for the tenth time. "Think about it. What happens when a condom breaks like that one did last month?"

"Oh my God, you don't mean..?"

"I see you now get that we are going to be three pretty soon." She smiled. I chased her into our bedroom. At least we wouldn't have to worry about birth control for a while.

My mom went nuts, like I knew she would. My dad just said life, as I have known it, was coming to an abrupt end.

Tina Marie was seven pounds three ounces and had a thick head of light brown hair. After twenty-two hours of labor, I didn't think she'd ever come out. I was there for the whole thing and even got to cut the umbilical cord. I was tired, but Lana looked whipped. Tina was the most beautiful baby girl in the world. And that's exactly what I told anyone who would listen. Luckily for the two of us, Tina started sleeping through the night after the first month. Maybe this won't be too bad I thought, until my dad gave me a little insight.

"Steve, a baby changes everything, so you'd better get used to it. Your days of doing anything you want, when you want, are now officially over. With a little one you'll have to plan to go everywhere." I told my dad nothing would change much. He laughed—he was right, I wasn't.

Nothing was ever easy or simple again. Just going over to visit with my parents was an ordeal. Food, diapers, two changes of clothes, was just the half of it. We now kept a bag packed with essentials in case we needed to go somewhere in a hurry. It got better, just not before Tina reached the ripe old age of five. Even though it was a pain in the ass at times, I wouldn't have given it up for the world.

Money was pretty tight for a while, but with us getting raises over the years, life wasn't too bad for the three of us. Our schedule centered around the school calendar year, and although Lana had summers off, it wasn't like most people thought.

People who think teachers have it made should walk in their shoes for one year, and then they'd know what it's like to educate their sons and daughters. Lana worked one week after the kids left for their summer vacation, and went back a week before the students returned in the fall. That's the way the contract was written, but she always worked many days on her own getting ready for each new school year.

And, no matter what you've heard, they don't get a paid three-month vacation in the summer. Their vacation is less than two months. I know lots of business people who get more vacation than that. Teachers get paid a yearly salary for the actual days they work which is divided up by the month, so they get their last paycheck a couple of weeks after they leave for the summer and don't get another one until they've been back for two weeks. And don't get me started on how little they are paid. Lana and I felt the crunch of those meager paychecks often.

Then suddenly our life took a turn. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was April and we were coming up on eight years together. Lana caught a cold that she couldn't shake. It started out like any normal common cold, but then went into bronchitis-like symptoms. She went to the doctor she'd been going to see since moving to Florida as a kid. He was a general practitioner in a clinic with two other doctors. I think he did more reminiscing than doctoring during her first visit. He prescribed an antibiotic and some strong cough medicine. He told her to take it easy for about a week. After a couple of weeks when she didn't seem to get better I started to get concerned.

"Hon, you should go back to the doctor and get checked out again," I told my stubborn wife.

"Steve, it's just the start of a summer cold that's all. I used to get them all the time. If it doesn't get better soon, I'll go back and get checked out again. The only time it really bothers me is when I lay down to sleep at night."

She did get better after a couple more weeks, but still had a dry, throat-clearing cough that hung on. Finally, after badgering her to death, she went in and the good Doctor James prescribed some codeine cough medicine this time. As strong as it was, no one would be able to cough with that stuff in their system. She again got better but was still tired. I found out much later she also had body aches on and off.

That summer we had the greatest summer vacation ever. A good friend of mine had a condo on the beach with a twenty-two foot speedboat docked in a marina on the intercoastal waterway. He gave me a great deal. We frolicked in the surf during the day, and most afternoons I took them both out for rides up and down the coast. Lana screamed I was going to kill us all, while our five-year-old daughter yelled to go faster.

We cooked and ate breakfast and lunch in the condo. However, I made it a point to take everyone out for dinner at night. There were plenty of restaurants in the area; most were reasonably priced and not very busy in the mid-summer months. Hell, the snowbirds wouldn't hit for another six to eight weeks.

"We should buy a place on the beach," Lana said wistfully, cuddling up to me on the balcony one night, looking out at the ocean. We could rent it out during the height of the tourist season, and use it ourselves the rest of the time. Then when we retire, we could live there because it will already be paid for." It was a nice dream and I gave her the task of checking it out. "You really mean it?"

"Sure, why not? But I think you're going to find everything is a little out of our current budget."

"Well, it doesn't have to be anything plush like this. All we really need is a two bedroom, one bathroom place, with a kitchen and family room of some type."

"You look at what's available, and I'll push the numbers, but right now there is something else I'd like to push your way."

"Sir, are you propositioning me? You do know I'm married and love my husband to death?" she said in her twangiest southern drawl.

"Well, little lady, I've got this problem, and I know you're just the woman to take care of it for me." I put her hand on my crouch.

"Mr. Moore, are you trying to corrupt me?"

"I believe I've already done that, just want to see what you've learned." Lana always said she was a fast learner. I was the happiest man on Earth. I had the most beautiful woman in the world, a daughter that made my heart skip a beat, and a life most men dream of. In three words, I was lucky.

When Lana's cough came back Dr. James was out of town, so one of the other doctors in the clinic saw her. He gave her two more refills of her cough medicine and put her on another round of antibiotics, something called a Z-Pack saying this would knock out anything she had in her system. That lasted almost three months and then we went through a week of her sleeping sitting up.

"Enough, already!" I told her one Monday morning when school was closed for some holiday. "We're going to the doctor and get this taken care of once and for all. With my daughter staying with my mom, we headed out to the same stupid clinic.

Mondays are the worst day of the week to see a doctor, especially if you don't have an appointment and there is no school. Two hours later we were ushered into an examination room where we waited another half an hour before the third doctor in the practice finally honored us with his presence.

"What seems to be the problem, Mrs. Moore?"

"She's had the same damn cough on and off for the last five and a half months. The codeine cough medicine that was prescribed helped, but it came back as soon as she ran out of it." He looked at me and then at Lana.

"Why don't you hop up here," he gestured to the examination table, "and let's take a listen." He listened to her chest, front to back, asking her to breathe deep and cough for him. He then took another look at her file. "There is something there and it could be pneumonia, but I'm not sure. Just to be on the safe side, I think we'll get a couple of chest x-rays." I was starting to feel a little bit better. They were now treating her instead of just pushing drugs. "Get with the receptionist and she'll set up the x-ray."

"You don't do them here?" I asked.

"Not any more. The x-ray center is just across the street. Most of the time you can just walk in and have it done. Have my receptionist call for an appointment just in case."

It didn't make any difference because we weren't going to leave until we got one done. An hour and a half later, we were headed to Walgreens to fill two more prescriptions. It was four thirty before we finally got home. We had spent the entire day going from clinic to clinic, but maybe now we will find out what she had.

Another set of x-rays, a mammogram, an ultrasound, and an upper body MRI rounded out Lana's tests the following week, yet we knew little more than we did two weeks ago. When the doctor wanted to schedule a consultation with another doctor, a specialist, to go over all her test results, I lost it.

"We're not taking another test or seeing another doctor until you tell us what's going on, do I make myself clear?" I wasn't trying to be being an asshole; I was just tired of being jacked around.

"Mr. Moore, we just want to be one hundred percent sure before we say what we think it is," the doctor said, without any emotion in his voice. "There are two different kinds of masses, one in each breast that were detected on your wife's mammogram and confirmed with the ultrasound. The x-ray detected another in her lower right lung. We just wanted to get all the test results back before we said anything. However, the only way to be one hundred percent sure is to do biopsies to confirm our diagnosis. We need to talk with the radiologist who will perform them."

Dr. Patro saw us at ten-fifteen Wednesday morning. He looked at all the tests and agreed we needed to do the procedures. They would perform the biopsies on both her breasts and her lung the same day. Immediately following the lung biopsy she would have another x-ray of her right lung.

"Mr. and Mrs. Moore, it's a simple procedure where we take core samples from each mass in the breasts and in the lung and send them out for analysis. The procedure will take about an hour and a half since we are doing all the procedures at the same time. After the biopsy she will need to have a lung x-ray to ensure we got the right spot. We should have all the test results back within five days.

"Can you do it today?" I almost shouted at him.

"Not today, but this week for sure."

For the next two days we were both a wreck. I tried to stay positive and put on a brave face for my wife, but it was hard.

"Honey, it's probably nothing. One's probably a cyst, and the other is just scaring from your pneumonia."

"What if it's cancer?" I could hear the fear in her voice.

"No one has said anything about cancer."

"But Steve, what if it is?"

"Well, we'll deal with it when we get the test results."

It took most of the morning to do the biopsies and have the x-ray. I wanted to be in the room just to hold her hand, but they told me it would be too crowded with everyone else who needed to be in there. So I sat in the procedure waiting room praying that it wasn't what we both feared. She came out from the biopsy before going to have the x-ray still in her gown, holding a bag of frozen peas on each breast.

"How did it go? Did it hurt?"

"I felt a little pressure, that's about it. They took four to five samples from each area and we should know in three or four days." I was able to go with her to the x-ray room, but again had to wait outside the door.

Neither one of us wanted to address the issue, especially when Tina was in the room. Though I was optimistic, I couldn't help thinking about what we'd do if the tests came back positive. After two days I was nuts and Lana? She paced nonstop at home, and how she was handling it at school, I couldn't imagine.

"Why can't they just give us the results over the phone? Why do we have to go into their office? This can't be good," my wife said, almost in tears.

"Hon, they said they wanted the doctor to go over the results with us. That doesn't mean it's bad news, just standard procedure." Now I was expecting the worst, and praying with all my might I was wrong.

There was a lot of crying five minutes after the doctor joined us in his consultation room. He patiently waited until my wife settled down and got control of herself. He'd probably gone through this hundreds of times before.

"Mrs. Moore, it's bad but it's curable," which brought on another crying spell. It was ten minutes before he could start again.

She had two different types of cancer, one type in her breasts, the other a more aggressive type in her lung. There was no way to tell for certain exactly how long either had been growing, but it had been a while. We talked about the surgery, the recovery, and the chemo and radiation she'd have to endure afterwards.

"We're going to be as aggressive as the cancer is, and make no mistake, we will beat this." I was glad he was so optimistic, someone had to be.

We made the appointment with the surgeon for the following Friday. We were told the rest of the appointments would be made a couple of weeks after the surgery took place. The only thing that remained was to tell our daughter.

Tina understood as much as five and a half year old could. Though we kind of white washed the severity of Lana's condition and stage four was never mentioned, we didn't make it sound like a walk in the park. However, we didn't give her all the details, either. She had questions, most of them dealing with what would happen afterwards, and what she could do to help. This was now a family affair.

I didn't make love to my wife that night. I just wrapped my arms around her, pulled her in tight and held her as she let it all out, offering as much comfort as I could. There was nothing I could say or do that could fix this, I just needed to assure her I would always be there for her. Her tears kept my chest wet that night, while mine drowned the inside of my brain, as I tried my best not to let any escape. I was losing it but told myself I had to be the strong one, even if I knew I was only fooling myself. The woman in my arms was my life. I wanted to pick her up, right now, tonight, and run away from this as far as we could, but that was just wishful thinking on my part. No, this was something we would have to stand, fight, and win together—there was no other way. So after five horrific days, in the darkness of our bedroom we connected, bonded, and stayed as one, like we always had.

"Are you still going to find me attractive after they cut these off?" she asked, touching her breasts. I told her she meant more to me than some stupid breasts. She smiled, but I could tell it was forced.

Neither one of us got much sleep over the next couple of days. Every once in a while I would wake up and look over at my wife, she'd be lying there on her back with her eyes open. I would reach over, rub her arm, and give her a light kiss. There were no smiles at three o'clock in the morning.

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