This occurred "The Day My Wife Was Dying". It really underscores how even when something tragic is happening, something your brain can't process because it's too big and too awful. . . you don't stop feeling other feelings. You don't lose the ability to laugh or smile or appreciate beauty just because you're in mid-crisis. Sort of like when you're at a viewing of a dead relative, but something funny happens and you laugh then you look around feeling guilty for laughing. . . like you're not being somber enough to properly respect the dead. Anyway. . . I do that a lot, as most of you can probably imagine. I sort of forgot I wrote this, but it's the natural transition between Chapters 1 and 2. When I originally wrote it, I made no mention of the cancer because we still weren't sure how we were sharing the information, or with whom. So I edited it a bit cause. . . now you all know!
My in-laws were over. We were having one of those "family meetings" that you read about, where the family is in crisis and everyone needs to get together to support each other, plan moving forward and so on. None of us really knew what we were going to do about Leslie's news. We'd only had an hour or two to digest it.
It was a stressful discussion, with everyone taking turns sporadically bursting into tears or taking dramatic stances against that bastard, Cancer, in support of our maiden-fair (I mean Leslie in this instance) when the doorbell unexpectedly rang. It was a pleasant surprise considering being in a family meeting discussing my wife's cancer is probably very close to the bottom of the list of "things I'd like to be doing". I got up from the couch and walked to the door, looking through the window to see the next door neighbor girl, Amy (name changed to protect the innocent, yadda yadda). She occasionally visits to see if Emma can come out and play. I was preparing to tell her that Emma was with her other grandparents when I opened the door.
"Hi, Amy," I said. I noticed she was carrying a blanket and had a stuffed animal tucked under her arm. This is not typical. She's 6, and although that's not out of the stuffed animal demographic, I don't see her carting blankets or stuffed animals around the yard routinely. Or . . . ever.
"My mommy needs time," she responded, without preamble.
"W-what?" I responded. My eyebrows rocketed toward my hairline. "She needs time??"
Amy is more or less well-behaved, at least when I've been around, but her brothers are pretty. . . "high energy". I know a lot of the time I'll find them tearing around our little cul-de-sac, chasing each other while their father works outside the house so their mother can get a little work done INSIDE the house. I'd observe them out on the lawn, or street, in all manner of attire, as he did yard work and they explored the cul-de-sac barefoot. They're less of a micromanaging, satellite parenting couple than Leslie and I probably are. . . less over protective and more. . . "that'll heal, and if not we get frequent flyer miles at the ER". I think it comes from having a boy first.
So here was Amy. . . her mother needing "time". . . no evidence of the brothers. Had she'd snapped? Here was her daughter on my doorstep with blanket and stuffed animal, ready to spend the night or something so that her mother wouldn't murder her. At least that’s what I’d gathered/assumed.
"Your mom needs time?" I repeated lamely.
"Yeah, mommy said she needs time."
Unbelievable. . . I'm in the midst of a family crisis and SHE needs time. Something occurred to me. "Wait. . . is your mommy cooking something?" I asked.
"Yeah, and she said she needs thyme."
"Just a minute, I'll be right back." My eyebrows slowly returned to their natural relaxed position, and I chuckled, even as echoing chuckles issued from the listening family in the next room. I retrieved the thyme from the lazy Susan and brought it to the door.
"You tell your mommy to take all the time she needs," I said, relieved.
Amy looked up at me earnestly and said, "Okay," then turned and ran with the shaker of thyme across the lawn to her house, blanket and stuffed animal in tow.
The next night they had a Halloween party. I brought Emma over and was "sociable" (i.e. drank a beer, sampled a few appetizers and split). Before I left I told my neighbor the story and she was appropriately amused. I'm excited that she wasn't offended I thought there was a possibility she'd had a nervous breakdown. Maybe that possibility ALSO comes standard with having a boy first.