When I married my wife I knew good and well that she had cancer. She had 'soft-tissue sarcoma' meaning an inoperable tumor that clung to the outside of her esophagus as well as a few smaller ones in her abdomen.
She was going through chemo and we had just moved into navy housing. I wonder to this day what I was thinking. Any normal man with a head on his shoulders would not have gotten involved with this girl. There was bound to be pain and heartache and suffering. But I have never really been normal.
I remember the smell of sulfur. Every time I kissed her, made love to her, I could smell it. But that was trifle in comparison with the night terrors. I remember moving the bed and side tables to the other room because I was too spooked to sleep in the master bedroom after she woke me up in the dead of night screaming at the top of her lungs.
I remember the morphine delusions; the goats wearing smoking jackets, puffing pipes and walking down the stairs into the living room or the neon yellow demons crawling out of the ventilation. The chemo actually shut down the part of her brain that control her vision for an hour. We both though she would be blind forever.
And still, none of that compares with the seizures and the multiple times she quit breathing. I remember holding her and crying and begging her to 'wake up' and 'not to die'. She had a will that would not allow doctors to resuscitate her. So if she passed... it was over. There was no hope of reviving her.
There were good times to. I recall talking for hours. She couldn't drink coffee after chemo so I would make green tea and we would sit at our little crappy table, talk, sip green tea and smoke cigarettes. I remember we would dream of having babies, even though we both knew it was impossible. I lied and told her it was alright, that I didn't really want children.
Then, one day, she went into remission. And things became normal. And life dragged on. And we got set in our ways. We didn't really need each other anymore. We had nothing in common and would never had been together under normal circumstances.
I'm afraid to leave her. I think part of it is that I still cling to that guardian in me that watched over her while she slept, that part of me that stuck my glasses under her nose to see if she was still breathing because I couldn't see her chest moving up and down.
But I am getting old and life is getting short. Its getting near time to live for 'me'. Time for me to be happy and time to be loved for who I am and not what I can provide. I don't want to be the guardian in the night anymore.