When I come home and walk through the door, no matter what Dianna is doing, her whole body turns toward me, her face lights up, and I am greeted with an enthusiastic, booming, high-pitched “Hi, honeeee” that proclaims in a single breath how glad she is I am alive and well and home again, and how her life has suddenly been made complete because I am there with her, and there is no one else she would rather be with—the very same feeling I had the first time she showed up at my door so many years ago.
The End of Something
“Honey, why don’t we make love anymore?”
We are in bed. Dianna is reading a book about healing cancer, while I’m thumbing through a bird hunting magazine. Dianna lays her book on the end table and rolls over toward me. I lay down the magazine, too. She has my undivided attention now.
“I think we make love every day in some way,” I say.
“You know what I mean.”
As Dianna wades through choppy waters, “presenting” an ever-changing kaleidoscope of “discomforts,” a continuing stream of friends and family visit. So much love, but none of them fully appreciate, understandably so, what she is going through. She doesn’t help them much, either. I listen to her when people ask how she is doing.
“Better,” she invariably says.
One day I’m thinking about this new word in her lexicon, one of her favorites these days. Is she saying this because she really believes it?
“Cancer as a Tool”
We’re crossing a huge open meadow under a diffuse pale-blue sky in early May 2011. Chili is casting back and forth ahead of me, nose to the ground pushing through knee-high grass flashing in the wind. A single huge red oak, its still-tender pale-green leaves partnered with long strands of beaded chartreuse catkins, marks the center of the meadow up ahead on a gentle rise. I decide to break there. Soon after slumping down against its rough serrated bark, Chili circles back and drops down beside me, temporarily content to pick up on the wind, nose twitching. We share a long view of the low rolling hills rippling out in front of us to the east.