By Larry Puls @larrypulsauthor
|Ovarian Cancer; Facing Fears; Coco's Journey|
Rubbing her head, the gritty little bits of stubble were bursting forth like a freshly planted wheat field on the surface of her head—a breaking forth of spring. And it was spring—to Coco. New life. New hope. The testimony her hair revealed was—chemotherapy was all behind her—at least for now. And maybe, just possibly, hopefully forever. But time would reveal that uncertainty. One thing learned from the cancer road was in concrete. This whole cancer adventure had taught her patience—and humility—and a fresh view of life.
Equipped with her sense of momentary hope, she walked the streets of Kiawah’s town center on her summer beach vacation. And there in the heat of the day, she noticed a man pushing a woman in a wheelchair. An unusual couple mixed in with all the young families galavanting around for their summer outings.The temperature that day hovered somewhere around the hundred degree mark. The sweat was dripping from under her arms. Actually, it was pouring out like a faucet. Heat, taking its toll on her—draining what little strength she had built up. But knowing that this heat was temporary--but real, she wondered about the man pushing the woman. The couple disappeared around the corner.
Five minutes later as she was enjoying her sweet tea at a shaded table on the sidewalk, she watched the odd couple round the corner and come right towards her. They stopped one table over and parked in the shade as well. When the man went in to buy them something, the confined woman looked out towards the street. And when she did, Coco caught a glimpse of her eyes. Unexpectedly, they sparked a memory. I know those eyes.
Then the woman turned towards Coco and their eyes locked.
She definitely knew that face. But from where? And maybe it wasn’t the face that was so familiar, but the eyes. Tired and sunken as they were, they were memorable.
Something came up in her memory just as the woman spoke. “Coco? It’s me. Marcia Covington.”
It all came flooding back. The lunch. The fear. The questions. I was supposed to call you back. This was the woman she had had lunch with not four months ago in Atlanta. The acquaintance with ovarian cancer. The dying one. The one she was supposed to arrange a follow up meal with… But today she looked different.
Guilt welled up.
As she thought of what to say, Coco reasoned silently, but quickly, searching the recesses of her mind as to why she had not pursued this sweet woman. Chemo brain? Maybe. Busy? No, not really. Why didn’t I follow up? Then she landed on the reason—which would remain forever secret. The answer was embedded in her fears. More guilt.
Coco knew it would be too difficult to talk to someone in the first person losing their battle to ovarian cancer. That mirror would be hard to reflect upon.
“Marcia, it’s… It’s… It’s good to see you.”
“What are you doing here?” her friend said slowly with labored breathing.
“We’re having a little summer vacation… You?”
As Marcia answered and they carried on their conversation, Coco studied her in the wheelchair. Though she was partially listening, she was equally analyzing everything Marcia—the woman defined everything her diagnosis could be. She studied her friend’s weight loss, her pale skin, the wheelchair, the labored breathing, the weak voice. There were conclusions in the clues. Coco could not and would not ask her how she was actually doing. The answer was staring at her. An awkward moment of silence followed.
This short conversation was a slap of reality, revealing the truth of human frailty. It made Coco see a snapshot of how it could be—of how this could be her—and would be except for the grace of God…
Coco’s fears surfaced once again. Sadness overcame her.
And while she questioned being here now engaged in this exchange, Marcia asked. “I will be back home next week, would you be interested in going out to lunch?”
The courteous part of her wanted to say “of course.” The fearful part of her wanted to find a way out. But the woman in the chair was looking up… Smiling…
She nodded yes.
Lunch was on.
When Does Summer Vacation at the Beach Spark Fear? Larry Puls; (Click to Tweet)
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Don't Miss the Previous Chapters