“I’m sorry.” Dr. Wilson bowed his head. Shelley and her mother held each other and cried. “I wish we had a cure. There are so many kinds of cancers. I know chemotherapy is often presented as a panacea, but the truth is there are a lot of cancers we do not know how to treat.”
Shelley’s mother sat back in her chair. She never thought she would outlive her daughter. The desperation in the moment threatened to envelop her. She closed her eyes and tried to breathe.
“Mother, are you okay?” Shelley reached from her bed and tapped her mother’s shoulder. The doctor reached over and pushed the nurse’s button.
“Mrs. Shunan, please put your head down as close to your knees as you can. I’m going to get you some oxygen.” The doctor opened a drawer, and pulled out a long tube. He stuck it on the oxygen nipple and gently put it around Bernice’s head and the ends in her nose. The nurse entered. The doctor turned to him and pointed at Shelley’s mother. “Please make arrangement for Mrs. Shunan to spend the night with us. Let’s get her something to relax.”
Bernice looked up at the doctor. “I want to stay with my daughter.”
Dr. Wilson held her hand “Of course. ” Looking over his shoulder he spoke again to the nurse. “Please make arrangements to keep the two women together tonight.” The nurse nodded, and left. Dr. Wilson checked Bernice’s eyes and pulse. “Are you trying to show up your daughter?” He made Bernice smile. There was something about the macabre humor that made her more at ease.
Another nurse entered and she took Bernice’s blood pressure. Dr. Wilson smiled. “Look at that, your heart is better than mine. I’m sure you have a lot to talk about with her daughter. Just sit here and relax and breath in the good oxygen. I’m going to give you two some time alone together.”
Dr. Wilson left and Bernice looked over at Shelley. She reached out and held her daughter’s hand. “At least I get to keep my hair mom.” They both smiled and then the tears came. Bernice didn’t care what the doctor said, she stood up and held her daughter. When the tears would no longer come, she sat back down.
“I have two years mom. Let’s make the most of the good days I have left. Besides, a lot can happen in two years.”
Bernice knew it was true. Maybe there was an experimental drug coming out. Anything was possible. “Okay honey, where do you want to go when we check you out of this hospital bed tomorrow?”
Shelley smiled, “Let’s go to the mountains and watch the sunset, and the next day watch it rise.”
Bernice nodded her head. “As many sunrises and sunsets as you want.”