As we talk, I go from an upright, back straight position to an inward, crumbled rag doll, sinking further into our oversized green chair, unable to meet Art’s gaze. Every demand I make deflates me as pieces of self disappear. Art, on the couch, is looking emotionally sicker and sicker as the conversation continues. I sob. I’m confused, not sure of what it is I want, unsure of the purpose of our conversation. I look into my lap at my ringing hands and realize I miss him. I miss him so fucking much. I am thinking that when Art begins to cry. “I miss you,” he says and holds out his hand to me. We come together, crying on the couch, both of us relieved.
Cancer corrodes the pieces of he and I that fit together. I forget that lesson every time we go into chemo. In cancer, I am busy dealing with our lives, he is busy getting through the next moment. We talk to each other every day, but until last night, we hadn’t touched each other in over a week. There were the usual hello and good bye kisses, but our morning ritual had disappeared into the chemo fog. The moments that make a marriage work, like appreciating the others wise-ass comment made towards the kids, are absent.
This cycle of connect, disconnect, reconnect is not new to our marriage. Our ability to reconnect is the reason we are still together. But this disease amplifies all of it; the shame, the anger, the hurt. As it does the sweetness of Art’s breath, the sound of his voice as my head rests on his chest, the feel of his hand lying lazily on my hip.