Monday, December 27, 2010

Just Curious

This story has been posted for so long now without any comments or feedback and I'm thinking of removing the Blog, but I won't if anyone is still reading. Let me know if folks are reading still...
Thanks, Opester

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thank You to Everyone!

I just wanted to thank everyone who's stuck out the journey with Jon and Trish-it's been a long haul, but hopefully a good one! I've enjoyed writing the story, but the comments have been such a welcome reward! There were many times I might have quit writing if not for your encouragement and support. This story would not have been possible without that as well as the contributions so many have made along the way. I want to thank all the folks who've assisted with detailed information on places and names in countries I've never visited (the Aussies and Kiwis) and the German folks who rekindled my memories of their beautiful country. I'm also grateful for the support and advice on those chapters that dealt with the time changes and I'll be forever in debt to Heike for the wiener schnitzel recipe! (I make it often) I'm especially grateful to those folks who shared their interest in Wicca with me and I learned early on that it wasn't appealing to a number of folks. I miss my friend, Sunstreaked, and her witty and valuable comments along the way and I hope she'll be back online with us soon. I'm grateful to Alice for agreeing to be my model for the catsitter character despite her allergies to the little beasts! And Bayaderra, for enlightening me to David's charms as well as those of Jon and Richie! I'm of course grateful to Jon and the Jovi boys for providing the initial motivation to start writing and I marvel at the tremendous talent they share with us still. I also want to thank my friends and my boyfriend who have served as sounding boards and technical advisors for various pieces in the story and especially those, including my cats, who have inspired parts of some of the characters. But most of all, I want to thank my tireless and dedicated editor, Carla, who has been there for most of the journey (from the day that we met) and has selflessly combed every chapter for any grammatical error or typo-you'll notice the grammar and spelling improved quite a bit in the later 2/3 of this story. Carla, thank you so much for being both editor and advisor and for telling me when I wasn't making any sense, LOL! Thanks to you, I can rest assured that the points I wanted to make actually came through in the story, but mostly thank you for being my friend. Your loyalty and encouragement has meant more than you know! And if there are any typos in this last post, don't blame Carla-she didn't get to see this part yet! Lastly, I wanted to acknowledge the host of other talented Fan Fic writers who inspire us with their tales-there are so many, but I especially wanted to mention Jilliane K who wrote what I still consider to be the cadillac of Fan Fic-The Layover. I credit her with my introduction to the genre and for a model of quality I will always envy. For anyone thinking of writing their own Fan Fic, I strongly encourage you to give it a go and follow your muse which we all have. I've learned a lot and grown in many ways thanks to trusting the inner wisdom that comes from following, rather than leading, my muse!
Blessed Be,
Opester

Epilogue

My Dearest Love,

On the day that you left, I looked out the window at the garden, so barren and lifeless without you, and all I could do was cry. I didn’t think I could even stay in our house any longer once you were gone. I saw you everywhere, Trish, and it was both a comfort and a curse. Why, why did you leave before me? I’d ask over and over.

I knew it wasn’t your plan, baby, but I was angry. Angry that you were gone and I was still here. I knew what I promised and I’ve kept my word, but I still wish you hadn’t asked me to stay. Baby, I still miss you so much.

Little Richie and Jovi followed me for days and they wouldn’t let me out of their sight. They didn’t understand and they kept scratching at every closed door in the house until I would open it. They thought you were lost and I kept on hoping we’d find you too.

Richie kept his eye on me and trust me when I tell you, he took his oath very seriously. He was like a mother hen, but I guess I needed it. I was glad he was there-at least most of the time. It was his idea to add my parts to “the book” as you called it. He hoped that maybe I’d start writing again if I just started by writing to you, but it felt like the music died the day that you left. You’d known me better than I’d known myself, I discovered, so there was little I needed to add. And you were right, by the way-you were my mirror all those years. The problem was that I lost my reflection once you were gone. For months, I was nothing more than a ghost without you, Trish.

I stayed with Richie in California for a month because I just couldn’t accept that you were gone. I couldn’t bear to be here without you and I almost sold our house, but I’m glad that I didn’t. It’s good to be home now and surrounded with the things that remind me of you. I found myself again when I came home and I’ve even been hearing a song in my head lately.

I’ve decided to publish your book, baby. While I’ve always been pretty private, ours was a story that needed telling and you told it beautifully. I really believe it will give others hope in their bleakest moments, just the way you did for me. There’s a miracle waiting out there for everyone and I’m glad I was fortunate enough to have found mine. Have I told you how much I miss you?

I remember the day of your funeral. It’s hard for me to type out that word even now because I still wish you weren’t gone. I won’t even say that other four letter word and maybe I just never will. I couldn’t bring myself to scatter your ashes like you had asked and I hope you’ll forgive me because I just wasn’t ready to part with them then. Now it’s Springtime and the garden’s blooming like crazy. I wish I could walk with you through the garden just once more like we used to do, but Richie and Jim were both here today and I knew it was time. You’re part of the earth now, baby, and every flower reminds me of you.

You still haunt my dreams, Trish, but it’s the greatest solace I have and it gets me through. I hear your voice and I look in your eyes and I smell your perfume and I feel alive. I touch your hair and I feel your warm breath on my skin and I know you’re near. Can you feel my arms wrapped around you? Can you taste my lips when I kiss you? I know you can, baby. I feel you. I can deal with the days because I know you’ll come to me in the night. When the moon is full, I know you’re here with me. I know you’re waiting and that gives me strength. Until then, we have our dreams…

I love you forever,
Jon


*************

The Sauna Part 313

By mid-afternoon, there was no doubt that the pain had returned and Jon gave me another injection. With the help of the drug I was able to enjoy the “party” and visit with our friends later that evening. What I wished for when I blew out the candles probably wouldn’t seem like much of a cliff hanger, but in truth I wished for the Goddess to take me before things could get any worse. The last thing I wanted was for Jon’s head to be full of images much worse than he’d already seen.

I realized my wish hadn’t been granted when I woke the next morning and opened my eyes. Nope, I’m still here. Jon was sleeping soundly beside me and I listened to the steady sound of his breathing, unlike my own which was shallow and rasping. Be good to him, Goddess, he’s such a wonderful man. He doesn’t deserve this. Please don’t make him suffer. Jon’s eyes fluttered open and he shook himself awake, annoyed that he’d fallen asleep.

“Morning, baby. What can I get you?” he began his routine.

“Nothing, love” I wheezed, placing my finger to my lips for a kiss and then gently touching Jon’s face.

Everyone was leaving this morning, although they had all offered to stay. Jon had declined all manner of help that was offered and he appeared anxious for everyone to be gone. He knew there wasn’t much time and he was reluctant to share me with anyone else in the final hours.

Tico and Eva left first and said their goodbyes. I reached up to hug Eva, but she leaned down and planted a kiss on my forehead instead. Tico must have told her it was too painful to squeeze me. I was truly blessed to have such wonderful friends.

“I’m gonna miss you so much” Eva whispered through her tears and I squeezed her hand and nodded in agreement.

“Goodbye, my dear friend.” I said, “Eva, you helped me find my way in Jon’s world and I’ll always be grateful. When I needed a friend, you were there and you’ve been there ever since! I’ll miss you too.”

Eva lowered her head to allow me to kiss her before stepping aside for Tico to approach.

“Trish, it’s been my pleasure and my honor to call you my friend. I know we’ll meet again soon, but rest easy in the arms of the angels ’till then” Tico said, kissing my hand with genuine reverence as the tears rolled down my face.

Next it was Cherie and Jim who came to bid their farewell.

“Trish, you’ve been the sister I never had. I couldn’t have wished for a better one. It won’t be the same without you” she cried.

“Cher, you’ve been with me the longest, through good times and bad. Please don’t dwell on the bad times when there are so many wonderful things to remember. Just dwell on those, okay?” I begged.

“Oh, Trish, I’ll try” she cried harder, fleeing the room in distress and leaving Jim to say his goodbye to me privately.

“Jim…” I said softly and he came and sat on the bed.

“Trish, I know I’m supposed to be a writer and all, but I just can’t find the words…” he struggled as the tears rolled down his face. “I’ve always loved you, honey, and I always will” he said finally, recalling the term of endearment he’d used when we’d been together.

My heart was breaking beyond all imagining and I searched for the words I wanted to say. It was Jim, not my ex-husband, who’d been the other love of my life.

“Jim, my dear, wonderful friend…it won’t be forever. We’ve got lifetimes ahead of us still. Know that I’ve always loved you and remember, we’ll meet again” I managed to say before a fit of coughing made it too difficult to speak.

“Hush, my sweetheart, there’s nothing more you need to say” he assured me and he kissed me goodbye for the final time.

Jon and Richie were in the corner and there seemed to be some on-going disagreement as Carla came to my side. She explained that Richie wanted to stay while Jon wanted him to go and that’s why they were arguing.

“Trish, you’re Richie’s best friend and he wants to be here with you and I understand that. He has my support if you want him to stay, but just tell him what you want him to do. It needs to be up to you” she smiled wisely and I nodded.

“Tell him to come here and, thank you, Carla. I know you’ll take care of him” I said, my voice hoarser now with emotion and she nodded.

Richie came and sat down beside me and took my hand between his big paws. I could feel the warmth and the strength that emanated from him like a ray of sun against my cool flesh. I shivered and he pulled the blanket up tighter around me.

“Richie, I want you to go home with Carla” I began and he shook his head “no”.

“Richie, listen, please. It won’t be that much longer now and I want to spend what time I have left with Jon. He needs time alone with me, Richie, and I need time with him. Will you do this for us?” I asked.

“Of course, Trish, if that’s what you want” he relented finally. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?” he asked, just to be sure.

“I love that you would, but no. Jon and I need each other right now” and he bowed his head in silent understanding.

“Richie…” I whispered and he leaned closer.

“Yeah, babe, I’m here” he said in a strained voice.

“Take care of Jon when I’m gone” I rasped.

“I promise” he replied solemnly.

“And Richie? Take care of you. You’re my best friend and I love you more than anyone else in the world next to Jon. I need to know that you’ll be okay too” I prompted.

“I will” he said, his voice choking as he spoke.

“Look at me, Richie. Promise?” I demanded.

“Promise, Trish. Remember, you’re always right here” he smiled, pointing again to his heart.

“Here too” I smiled back, pointing to my own.

Richie and Carla took their leave then, but I knew Richie would be checking in on Jon and he’d be here for him once I was gone. Jon would not be alone and I could rest now as I was exhausted. But before Richie left, he took Jon aside and spoke his concern to his friend. It was one of the hardest things he ever had to do.

“Jon, you’re my brother and I’ll be here when you need me. Promise me that you’ll call me right away. I’m not leaving here until you do” Richie said firmly.

“I will, man, I will. I just can’t think about that right now, okay?” Jon said as he ran his fingers through his hair and kept nervously looking back over at me.

“Listen, Jon. One more thing, okay? When she tells you she’s ready, don’t hold her back. She’s hanging on just for you now and when she can’t hold on any longer, you gotta let her go, man. Don’t let her suffer, okay?” Richie said in a trembling voice.

“Jesus, Goddess, I don’t know if I can do that” Jon swallowed hard.

“You gotta, man. If you love her-and I know you do-you gotta do what’s right. Be strong, Jon. Be strong for Trish ’cause she needs you to be strong for her” Richie said finally and then he was gone.

I’d fallen into a fitful slumber and Jon called the doctor to ask how often I could have the morphine.The doctor told him I could have it as often as I wanted, but no more than a certain maximum dose per day. Jon hung up the phone and walked to my bedside and filled the syringe. It would be ready when I woke up and he sat down to wait.

Minutes turned to hours and the night came, bringing with it a soft, falling snow. Jon stood at the window and looked out. The moon was riding high in the sky and he turned his face towards the shimmering light and silently begged.

“Not tonight. Please, Lady, not tonight. Just give me tonight” he pleaded with all his heart.

Jon’s wish was granted and I opened my eyes just before midnight and called him to come to me. He crawled into the bed and helped me sit up, letting me rest my head on his shoulder. I had another two shots of morphine, and one final miracle as the pain receded for the final time and I was able to speak.

Jon and I talked and we took turns, remembering so many things from our past. We both vividly recalled that day in the sauna when our lives changed forever and we gave thanks for the many blessings we’d been given. Jon got the scrapbook I’d made him and we looked through it together. I’d added to it as time had gone on and along with the photos from the Handfasting there were pictures from the garden and our houses and our various trips…California, Sedona, Scotland, Germany, New Zealand…they were all there. There were very few photos of either of us alone as our life had been spent mostly shared.

Morning broke and the sun filtered in through the windows as we lay together in bed, Jon stroking my hair as I ran my fingers across the silver fur on his chest for the last time. We’d said all we needed to say and I knew deep inside that now it was time to just say farewell. Jon knew it too, but it was harder for him. Once I was gone, he’d still be here and that’s the part he most feared.

“Jon, I think it’s time. I’m ready to take my leave from this world. We’ll meet again in the Summerland, but until then you need to go on. Your time hasn’t come and you mustn’t hasten your journey. Promise me, love” and he nodded his understanding.

“There’s no need to rush, baby, because I’d wait an eternity to be in your arms once again. Someday soon we’ll walk again in the garden” I said with a sense of peace born of certainty.

“Trish, please don’t go, not yet. Please…” he began with tears welling up in his eyes.

“Ssshhhhh, my love, peace. Do this for me Jon, let me go and just sing to me for the last time” I whispered softly.

Jon swallowed hard and remembered Richie’s parting words and he willed himself to be still. He began humming softly as I looked into his eyes one final time before the light started to fade from my sight. I closed my eyes and traveled through time, back to the Summerland, where I would wait for Jon to join me again. I smiled once more as I passed into forever and I heard his voice softly singing.

I’ll be there till the stars don’t shine
Till the heavens burst and the words don’t rhyme
And I know when I die you’ll be on my mind
And I’ll love you always


**************

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Sauna Part 312

Tico and Eva arrived later that evening and everyone except Jon was gathered in the living room discussing the situation. Jon was in his usual place by my side and I was resting quite comfortably thanks to the miracle of the morphine. My breathing had become somewhat more shallow, he noted, but I looked more peaceful than I had in a few days. Jovi sat on his lap and he stroked the cat’s silky fur while little Richie purred quietly in my ear as I slept.

“I just don’t understand how this all happened so fast” Eva protested as Jim and Cherie tried to catch them up.

“I don’t really understand it either, but I’m glad you’re both here. We got here a week ago and Trish wasn’t good, but she wasn’t nearly this bad” Jim explained.

“That’s why Jon’s such a basket case right now too. No one thought it would happen this fast. I shouldn’t have yelled at him. He’s in shock and he’s sick with grief” Richie said with regret.

“Of course he is! Who wouldn’t be in his shoes?” Tico added, taking Eva’s hand in his lap. “But it sounds like he just wasn’t thinking right either, bro. You had to do something. You couldn’t let her suffer like that.”

“Jon isn’t sleeping and he’s barely eating. He won’t leave her side. It’s no wonder he can’t process what’s happening” Cherie added.

Carla had made a pot of tea and brought it out with some snacks, but no one had much of an appetite. She poured herself and Richie a cup and offered it to the rest, but there weren’t any takers. It was hard to know what to do or what to say as she hadn’t known me nearly as well as her husband or the others had. She was here to support Richie and the others as best she could.

“No thanks, darlin’” Tico declined. “but I could use a drink. No offense, man” he announced, nodding towards Richie.

“None taken. If I was still drinkin’, I’d be joining you” he smiled sadly.

“I’ll join you” Jim said heavily and the wine proved more popular than the tea.

The evening turned into night and eventually everyone went to bed. The morphine had completely knocked me out and I slept soundly through the night. With no coughing to keep waking Jon up, he too fell asleep in the bed and we both dreamed of happier times.


******************


“Happy birthday, baby!” Jon grinned as he watched me open my eyes, feeling somewhat encouraged after the first peaceful night we’d had in some time.

“Morning, my love” I smiled as he leaned over to kiss me gently.

“Tico and Eva made it in last night, but they didn’t want to wake you and I wouldn’t let them anyway” he smirked proudly. “Should I go and get them? I know they’re anxious to see you.”

“Not just quite yet. Stay with me, Jon” I replied, enjoying the feel of his warm body next to mine.

It felt good to be without pain and I didn’t want to risk moving and breaking the spell. I wanted to savor this time alone and I wished in a way that it would last forever. I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer to the Goddess for granting me this final gift on my birthday.

Eventually we heard sounds of activity coming from the kitchen and Jon’s stomach growled. I actually laughed as it reminded me of what hadn’t changed.

“So, are you gonna make me some French toast? It is my birthday after all” I teased, my voice sounding a bit hoarse, but with only a small cough that followed.

Jon sprang up in bed, anxious to fulfill my every wish. It wasn’t often that I’d asked for food and I usually ate only a little and then only to appease him and make sure he ate something too.

“Be back in a flash. I smell coffee and you can bet Richie made it” he grinned before dashing off.

Goddess, but it was good to see Jon smile again. I’d seen precious little of his real smile these days and way too much of the forced smile he wore to disguise his worry and sadness. It was going to be a good day.

“Jon, we didn’t mean to wake you” Cherie said apologetically. “I hope we didn’t wake Trish” she added, looking a bit anxious.

“S’okay, we were up and Trish wants my French toast! But I need to get her some coffee first” he said, sounding chipper.

“I’ll take it in to her, bro. You’d better get cooking-never keep a lady waiting” Richie offered and surprisingly Jon agreed.

He and Jim exchanged looks, but they weren’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. If Jon could look cheerful, so could they. Richie poured my coffee and brought it in with a smile.

“Morning there, darlin’. Happy birthday! How ya feeling today?” he asked in his best cheerful voice.

“Not so bad” I replied hoarsely in a voice that might have sounded husky in another context.

“Jon’s making some breakfast. Are you sure you feel up to THAT?” he needled me, just like old times, and at Jon’s expense.

“Hey, I’m dying anyway. How much harm can it do?” I giggled, before getting serious for a moment. “Richie, I’m gonna miss you so much.”

“I’m gonna miss you too, Trish. You have no idea how much you mean to me. Sometimes I keep thinking this is all just a bad dream.”

“I know Richie, I know” I coughed. “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”

“You’ll be in here, always” he gestured to his heart. “So, are you ready for Tico and Eva? They’re dying, uhm, anxious to see you” he winced, mentally kicking himself for making such a slip.

“S’okay Richie. If I can quip, so can you” I assured him. “Send in the team” I beamed brightly.

Jon had finished making the first batch of French toast and Carla had offered to take over making the rest. Jon gratefully abdicated his chef’s apron and the rest of the crew barreled into our bedroom. Eva immediately hugged me and I closed my eyes to hold back the wave of pain that I didn’t want her to see, but Tico caught it and gently pulled her aside.

“Happy birthday, querida” he smiled, lifting my hand to his lips.

“Tico, Eva, it’s so good to see you! I can’t believe you’re all here! Where’s Carla?” I wondered, as I hadn’t seen her yet since she and Richie arrived.

“She’ll be along shortly. She took over the stove-with Jon’s permission, of course” Richie nudged him.

“But I made these myself, darlin’. Just like you like ’em” he said proudly, offering me the plate.

“Come over here and share them with me” I commanded and Jon obeyed.

You’re good, doll. That’s one way to get Jon to eat, Richie winked.

Carla finally joined us once everyone had a plate and I thanked her for taking over the kitchen duty for the lot of us. She was such a wonderful woman and I was so glad that Richie had finally found someone who deserved him. I felt a momentary pang of envy as I watched all the couples, knowing that they all had something I didn’t. Time. It was such a precious commodity I had realized. The pain had begun to slowly creep back and I thought I could hear the clock ticking.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Sauna Part 311

Cherie and Jim arrived first and I was excited to see them. My sister had wanted to come, but she couldn’t leave her husband and he was too ill to travel. I was thankful we’d made it to Florida for Thanksgiving before I was too sick myself. I knew I wouldn’t see her again and I’d said goodbye at that time. There were only a few others left that I needed to see and they’d all be here soon enough.

My birthday was still one week away, but Cherie and Jim wanted to help get the house ready and relieve Jon where they could. When it came to my care, Jon was possessive and he’d refused all discussion of hiring aids. Cherie resigned herself to cleaning the house and Jim ran the errands so Jon didn’t have to. He hovered over me most of the time and I began to chafe under such close supervision.

“Why don’t you go out with Jim for a bit, love? It’ll do you good to get some fresh air” I would prod.

“I’m right where I wanna be, babe” was the consistent reply.

We were all eating dinner one night when an idea finally struck me. I wanted to sort through some photos and old papers I had stored in the attic and if I insisted, Jon would comply. He’d have to go up there and root around in the boxes and cart them all down and it would take him some time. I voiced my desire and he grumbled and protested, but he finally relented and did as I asked.

“Trish, is there anything you’d like us to do? How can we help?” Jim asked after Jon disappeared.

“Get Jon to leave me alone!” I said with a laugh, followed by a dry, hacking cough. “Seriously, I’m really worried about him. I don’t know when he sleeps.”

“I’ve tried to get him to come to the store and Cherie has offered to stay with you at night, but Trish, he won’t budge” Jim replied helplessly.

“I know, I know. I sleep most of the time now, but when I wake up, there he is. He’s always watching me and he looks horrible. He isn’t sleeping hardly at all and I sleep enough for the two of us!” I said as I started to cry which brought on more coughing and a little bit of blood.

“Trish, he’s afraid. He’s afraid if he leaves that you won’t wake up” Cherie said softly.

I stared at her numbly as the words began to sink in. He thought he was keeping me alive by his very presence and in some ways it seemed almost true. There’d been times over the past month when I wanted to die; when the pain got so bad that I couldn’t stand it and I prayed for it to be over. But Jon sat there beside me, holding my hand or holding the basin so I could throw up and he silently begged me to stay. I’d look in his eyes and I’d see the terror behind them and I’d feel guilty. How could I leave him?

Richie and Carla came in the following day and Jim filled them in on the way home from the airport. Richie was concerned, but he wasn’t prepared for how haggard and drawn Jon looked when he saw him. He’d been barely eating and he’d lost too much weight and it showed.

“Jesus, Jon, you like hell” Richie said, taking a sharp breath.

“I’m okay, bro. No need to worry about me” Jon replied unconvincingly.

“Where’s Trish? I wanna see her” Richie demanded.

Jon led him to our bedroom which had become my nearly permanent residence. I smiled weakly when I saw him and he immediately came to my side. I tried to sit up to hug him, but the coughing prevented me and Jon swooped in between us and patted my back as I tried to clear my lungs. Richie looked at Jim and he shook his head while Cherie tried hard to hide her tears. Things seemed to have worsened in the week they were here.

“I need to see Richie alone” I finally croaked, but Jon didn’t think I meant for him to leave too.

“Please, Jon, don’t make me …” I coughed again and Jon turned away with tears in his eyes.

“I’m here, babe” Richie said, taking my hand.

“Richie, there isn’t much time” I rasped, struggling for breath.

“Trish, I didn’t know it was this bad” Richie said, his voice shaking.

I knew he had never expected to find me like this and I was sorry he had so little warning. The doctors had told me I had a bit longer and I’d assumed they were right. I hadn’t anticipated this either, but in a way I was glad. I’d had almost no symptoms for such a long time and I ignored what I noticed until I found the lump. By then it was too far gone and that I regretted. But I didn’t regret that the cancer was moving so quickly now. I wasn’t good at being ill and this was pushing me beyond what little patience I had for being dependent. Jon and I were both suffering and I was the cause.

“Please Richie, take care of Jon. I’m ready to go. I’ve been ready for days, but Jon won’t let go. I need to know…” I paused as the pain shot through my body like a hot knife.

“Trish, it’s okay. Don’t try to talk. Should I get Jon?” Richie asked in alarm but I shook my head.

“It’s nothing new” I assured him as I spat out some blood in a kleenex. “Will you promise to take care of Jon? I need to know that you’ll be here to look after him” I managed to say before the coughing began yet again.

“Trish, of course. What else can I do?” Richie said as his eyes clouded with tears.

“Get me my laptop” I pointed to the shelf and Richie reached over and brought it to me.

I caught my breath while it booted up and I knew that I needed to make my words count. I didn’t have many left as it was becoming too hard to speak for very long. I typed out instructions for Richie on how to access my journal and he watched as I showed him what I had written.

“When I am gone” I whispered, pointing at the computer and he nodded.

“What else, Trish? What else can I do?” he asked, feeling helpless.

“Tell Jon it’s time for the morphine” I smiled.

Richie was visibly shaken when he left our bedroom and he gripped Jon’s arm in the hallway to stop him before he rushed in.

“She said to tell you it’s time for the morphine” he explained in a voice choked with emotion.

Jon startled and looked at Richie with haunted eyes, shaking his head as if to clear it.

“No, she didn’t mean it. The pain will pass, it always does” he replied, unwilling to accept that I’d gotten that bad.

I’d been refusing the morphine for the past week as I knew it would make my mind cloudy. I wanted to stay lucid for as long as I could, but now I was ready. Richie was here and I’d said mostly what I needed to say and I was relieved. Tico and Eva would be here tonight and tomorrow was my birthday. I still had enough time to write my last chapter.

Richie’s temper flared and he shook Jon by the shoulders. How dare he deny me some relief from the pain?

“You stubborn bastard! Give her the morphine, for God’s sake! She’s asking now!” Richie screamed and I heard it.

Jim heard it too and he knew where it was and he pushed Jon out of the way as he rushed into the room. He filled the syringe, his hands shaking, as he pulled back the plunger. Jon tackled him and he dropped the syringe, but it was probably a good thing at that point. Jim had no clue what dose to give and he just might have killed me right then and there.

“Trish, are you sure?” Jon asked me, as he filled another syringe with the correct dosage.

“Yeah baby, I’m sorry. Please…” I answered, knowing how hard this was for him as he knew what it meant.

“Here, baby, here” he said soothingly as he injected the drug. “You need to rest. Tomorrow’s a big day” he cooed.

I smiled and reached for his hand. “Thank you” I said as I closed my eyes and waited for the drug to begin easing the pain.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Sauna Part 310

We went together to see the oncologist and I then understood what the follow up appointment was for. It wasn’t for me, not really, I thought. It was so the doctor could explain to my family what was wrong and what to expect. Jon sat patiently in his chair, holding my hand, and listening attentively. When the doctor had finished, Jon nodded his head and then asked when we could begin treatment. The doctor looked at him and then glanced over at me as if to ask whether he’d made himself clear. I stared at my hands and Jon asked again with growing impatience.

“Perhaps I didn’t explain the situation thoroughly enough. Mr. Bongiovi, your wife’s cancer has widely metasticized and isn’t treatable at this point. We’re here to discuss what she’s going to need in the future as the disease becomes worse. I know she seems relatively healthy right now, but this type of sarcoma is very aggressive and the lump that you found was not the primary source. It will only progress…” he tried again.

“Not if you just simply remove it” Jon interrupted.

“Jon, it won’t do any good. It’s already spread and the lump is only a secondary symptom. Please, listen to what Dr.Vasquez is saying” I tried to persuade him, but Jon was having none of it.

“If you aren’t gonna treat her, then we’ll find someone who will!” he exploded, rising to his feet and pulling me with him.

“Mr. Bongiovi, please, treatment has no real chance of success here and she’ll only suffer more from it. Your wife really needs your support” the oncologist tried again.

“And she’ll have it! I’m gonna be there every step of the way and we’ll find a doctor who won’t just give up, dammit!” Jon insisted as he dragged me out of the office along with him.

“Jon! Stop it! You’re embarrassing me! The doctor was only trying to explain the reality of the situation” I protested, but Jon wasn’t listening.

He was outraged that the doctor wouldn’t even discuss options or even try some form of treatment. His reaction was almost understandable in one sense as I didn’t have many symptoms, at least none that he saw. My breast was just a bit tender and he was infinitely gentle when he touched me, so I wasn’t really experiencing any pain. What I noticed, but Jon didn’t, was that I was having some difficulty breathing at times and I was beginning to feel tired more quickly. I had also been losing weight.

“C’mon, Trish, I’m booking us a flight to the Mayo Clinic. I’ll bet they won’t tell us there’s nothing they can do” he said adamantly.

“Jon, it’ll be Thanksgiving soon and I wanted to go see my sister. She’s expecting us to come for the holiday and I need to tell her goodbye” I argued.

“We’ll go to the Clinic on the way down, babe. Trust me, you’ll see” he persisted and I relented. Maybe the doctors there could convince him.


************


Jon had moved Heaven and Hell to get me an appointment at the Mayo Clinic on the day before Thanksgiving, but the prognosis was just the same. When he began voicing plans to look into clinics in Europe, I put my foot down.

“For the sake of the Goddess, please stop it! Enough! It is what it is, Jon. I’m going to die, with or without your permission!” I said harshly. “Baby, I need you to be here for me and to accept this. I’ve made my peace and I need you to make peace with this too. Jon, I can’t do this without you. Can you be there for me?” I said a little more softly.

Something broke loose inside Jon at that moment and he fell apart. He wept uncontrollably and I instinctively reached out and pulled him against me, holding him close while his body shook with the force of his sobs. I’d never seen him so out of control and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t have done if I thought it might ease his pain. If he wanted me to have chemo, or radiation, or surgery, I would have agreed. But he didn’t ask it. The one thing he asked me was the one thing I couldn’t do.

“Baby, don’t leave me!” he wailed over and over. “I can’t go on if you’re gone” he pleaded.

“Jon, it’s okay, I’m right here. Baby, I’m here” I said over and over, knowing it wasn’t enough.

When he finally stopped shaking and raised his eyes to meet mine, I knew he’d come back from the dark place he had gone. The brilliant blue eyes that looked out at me from above the rosy cheeks stained with tears were those of my husband and not those of a child. He raised my hands to his lips and spoke in a steady, calm voice.

“Trish, Goddess, forgive me. I know I’ve abandoned you when you needed me the most and I’ve been so selfish. I’m so scared of losing you that I’ve pushed you away instead of holding you close and being the one you could lean on. But I swear to you, baby, it won’t be like that any more. You call the shots and I’ll follow. Whatever you want, whatever you need, I’ll be right here” he said with the faintest ghost of a smile.

It was my turn to fall apart now. I needed him so desperately to be strong so that I didn’t have to be. Now that he was, I let myself go and I felt all the feelings I’d kept locked deep inside. I’d barely cried since the day I had learned of my diagnosis and then when I did, it wasn’t for my sake. I cried for Jon. I couldn’t let myself feel my own fear or feel my own grief until I knew Jon could handle it. Now that he’d turned the corner, my levee burst open and he was awash in the flood of my tears.

“I’m here, baby, I’m here. Let it go. Let the rain come” he whispered softly, cradling me to him just as he had when I’d grieved for my cats and then later, my parents. Now it was time to grieve for myself.


******************


During December, my condition deteriorated quite rapidly and Jon was amazing. He rarely left my side and no matter how often I seemed to doze off, when I woke up he was always there smiling. I remember one day in particular when the pain wasn’t so bad and I’d found the strength to get up and wash a few dishes while I waited for my tea to brew.

“Darlin’, don’t worry about that. I’ll take care of it later” he offered.

Jon didn’t want me to waste any energy on the mundane and yet there were times when I craved it. There was something almost sacred about doing the dishes as it represented a piece of my life that felt normal. It reassured me that I was still here and for a moment or two, there was something in my life I could manage.

“I want to Jon, really. But you can help me” I smiled and he joined me at the sink and we finished the dishes.

That small accomplishment felt like an enormous success, but it had effectively drained all my energy and I sat down heavily at the kitchen table with a satisfied sigh. Jon brought me my tea and I sipped it gratefully. I was still able to taste it and the warm liquid was soothing on my sore throat.

There was no question these days that I was sick. I had my good days on occasion, but mostly they were bad. I slept as often as I could since it helped ease the pain and when that didn’t work, I had medication. Hydrocodone had become my best friend since there was no reason to worry about addiction at this point. Hey, at least I wasn’t on morphine, I rationalized to myself.

My sixty-sixth birthday was approaching next month and Jim and Cherie were coming to celebrate. Richie and Carla would be there too and even Tico and Eva were flying in for a few days. I was glad Jon would have some support as he barely saw anyone and rarely left the house anymore. We needed our friends.

Jon helped me move to the couch in the living room where I could sit in front of the fire. When I wasn’t sweating, I was cold and I shivered visibly from the chill. I reached for the blanket that was draped on the couch and Jon covered me with it before he sat down beside me. Little Richie and Jovi were my constant companions and they took their spot on my lap.

“Jon, we need to talk, love” I began, but he shushed me.

I’d been trying for weeks now to get him to talk about final decisions and practical matters, but he just wasn’t ready. I took a sip of my tea and peered at his face over the rim of my cup. The lines had become deeper and his hair was quite gray, but he was as handsome as ever and for a fleeting moment I felt the stirrings of desire. It was a rather cruel thing, really, as making love had become too painful these days and it was too hard to breathe.

“There’ll be plenty of time for that conversation, babe” he assured me, but I knew better.

“Would you bring me my laptop?” I asked and he nodded, shaking his head.

I’d begun keeping a journal ever since Jon and I first met that day in the sauna. I don’t know why I started it; maybe to remind myself it was all real or to remember it all when it ended. Over the years I’d kept it up and while I didn’t write every day, I wrote fairly often. It had become a good way to process my feelings and it had become a chronicle of our lives together.

Jon didn’t know about the journal, or rather the book, as I liked to think of it now. It was the one secret I kept and the only thing that was private. These days I’d written a lot as my mind drifted over the past twenty plus years. It was comforting now to remember it all; even the struggles, as they reflected the love that we felt for each other. When I was gone, it would be there for Jon, to help him remember and know how much I loved him. I guess you could say that this was my verbal scrapbook of my life with Jon and I was getting ready to write the final chapter.