It’s dreary here without Paula.
Her two greyhounds stare at me as if because I’m here, their female human should be too. Chrissy and Scooby. I don’t have the heart to tell them she won’t be home just yet. They’ve already been missing her something fierce, I’m sure.
A sound outside makes me get up from behind the laptop and move to the front window. The dogs are excited. Perhaps I’ll give them a treat, they think. Or even better, a walk.
I see the neighbor across the street poking around in his garden. He wears a lumbar brace, smeared with dirt and stained with sweat. His belly protrudes over the belt.
I try to imagine what it smells like and my nose wrinkles in perceived disgust.
A UPS truck in the street slows but then inches forward stopping at the house next door. I sigh and absentmindedly scratch the pooch that stands next to me. I look down. Scooby. I take his long head into my hands and rub his ears playfully kissing the top of his nose.
No sooner does UPS pull away when another truck, larger and white, pulls up directly in front of the house. I squint to try and read the small blue lettering on the cab.
This is what I’m waiting for. But I wish I wasn’t.
You see. Paula is not doing well at all.
The cancer has gripped her body and is causing a host of other issues.
But Paula, whom God put directly into my path so that I could love on her through her struggle, ended up loving on me so much more when I was diagnosed.
She saw me through the breast biopsy (which was negative) and then the heart issue (which required a stent) and then the surgery and then the chemo and then the radiation therapy. All along being supportive and encouraging and ever so prayerful.
I won’t lie. It was tough to tell her when I went into remission.
Because she wasn’t.
And I wanted her to be free with me. I wanted us to celebrate together.
While she was finding cancer in more and more places I’d been diagnosed, treated, and relieved of the disease.
That awful question which has no answer this side of Heaven. But I ask anyway knowing my words fall deafly into a void.
Why do I get to hear the words “cancer free” and she doesn’t?
Instead, I watch forlornly as Hospice moves in the bed and the tray table and the oxygen tanks and my eyes fill with tears.
It doesn’t matter that I know we’ll all meet again in Heaven. I want time with her here – now. We’re just getting to know each other apart from our shared medical journeys.
I sign the paperwork of receipt and plop down in the chair behind my laptop, exhausted. I put my head in my hands and pray.
Pray for healing. Pray for Heaven. Pray for her husband.
It’s all I can do now.
Hold her hand, love her, and pray.