Cancer. Not just first stage breast, or second. Metastasized cancer that went to my breasts. Fourth and final stage of cancer, or so I am told. “There’s not much we can do,” the doctor said.
“How long,” Parker asked.
“With treatment, maybe six months to a year if we’re lucky.”
I heard the words, but my mind didn’t compute. I glanced over to Parker. His teeth were clenched and his eyebrows almost together. I had to fight. If not for myself, but for him—always for him. I’m the strong one, and I’ve always needed to be the strong one. His words rang in my ears, I can’t lose you again. I continued to hold onto my strength while I listened to the doctor explained my options. Chemo, surgery, radiation. There still wouldn’t be much hope, but it was my only option. In the end I would have to make a decision. Do I fight for my life and practically live in a hospital? Or do I live for what I have now, and go peacefully?
Parker and I left the hospital with heavy hearts. He kept that brave cold exterior up as we headed toward his Austin Martin. Once inside, Parker let his walls down. He turned to me and the tears that fell broke my last reserve. We cried together. “I can’t,” he choked, I couldn’t speak. He bent forwards and crushed my lips as he kissed me hard, like his entire life depended on it. I wrapped both my arms around his neck. “I. Love. You,” he said slowly between kisses.
“Only you,” I cried.
Parker turned the car on and wiped his eye of tears, “Lunch?” He asked as he turned his hard exterior back on. It was something I was use to. When the news about Jamie’s accident hit us, he only allowed the protective shield he kept on his emotions to fall for briefest of times, while the rest of the time he kept the brave face on for everyone else. He did the same with Kaliq’s heart attack. I don’t doubt he did the same when he left all those years ago. It was just who Parker was. Brave except in private and only for a brief time. “Lunch?” he asked again. I was still crying in my hands.
He leaned over the middle console and held me as I cried into his shoulder. His shield came down again, “Hana, please don’t cry now. I can’t hold it for much longer.”
“I don’t want to go home,” I cried. I wasn’t ready to face the rest of my family. I wasn’t ready to break the news to Kaliq, or Jon, or Charlie, or even Jahi. And what was I going to tell my grand babies? I wasn’t ready to deal with this, and from the kiss to the side of my head, I could tell that Parker wasn’t ready either.
“Let’s just get some lunch, we’ll deal with the rest of it later.”
Lunch was at a small bistro. We ordered, we sat, we ate. All in silence. There was nothing to say. Nothing to do. I wanted to cry and scream that this wasn’t fair. That I haven’t had enough time with Parker. I was afraid if I spoke, or made one tiny noise that I would break down, and I doubt that Parker could hold it together for much longer.
We headed for a park after lunch. Neither of us were ready to head back home quite yet. I finally broke down and cried while we walked hand in hand. Parker held me, hugged me. He didn’t say that everything was going to be okay, or gave me some sort of false hope. It wasn’t his stye and it wasn’t mine. We were all to aware how fragile life was, and this was just one of the things we were both going to have to deal with—just like all the other stuff life has thrown at us. We eventually found a nice spot to sit at on the grass, and he held me against his his chest as I cried, and he stayed silent and lost in his own thoughts.
“Hana, my sweet Moneypenny,” he whispered and kissed the top of my head.
“This isn’t fair,” I cried.
His arms held me tighter, “Nothing is fair. Life isn’t fair.”
“What are we going to do?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea, but we are eventually going to have to go home and tell them.” I knew who he meant. We were going to have to tell the kids, the grandkids, our friends.
When we arrived home, Parker walked me up to our apartment holding my hand with his real one. We ignored Kaliq’s questions of where we ran off too. We ignored Casey’s greeting and questions on how the appointment went. I found myself heading to bed on autopilot. That was until Parker pulled me back into his arms. He kissed my neck and turned me around to face him. His eye was filled with tears. He fell to his knees and cried. His barrier was broken, and this time he wasn’t going to be able to mend it. I kelt down with him and pulled him into my arms. We cried together. My tears stung and my heart broke for Parker. None of the tears I cried had been for me, they were all for him.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs alerted us. Parker didn’t pull away. He didn’t wipe his cheek. He didn’t let go of me. Losing me was going to kill him, and that I couldn’t allow. If he couldn’t put on the brave face now, I couldn’t even imagine how we was going to survive the next few months.
With one look at us, Casey stopped. “Shit,” he said quietly. “Please, tell me you guys are crying, because it was good news?”
Casey had learned about my cancer when he overheard us talking about the tests. He wished us luck, and promised to keep it a secret. Parker and I trusted his word on that. He held many of Parker’s secrets.
I shook my head at him, “It’s bad.”
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Rain. Is there anything I can do?”
Parker turned to him and said, “Bring me a bottle of the strongest Vodka you can find.”
“From the secret-secret stash?”
“No, the secret-secret-secret stash.”
Casey was just down a couple of stairs when he stopped. He met my eyes and spoke, “Mrs. Rain, you know you’ve always been like a mother to me. I hope you know that.”
“Thank you, Case.” He left Parker and I alone again, and I took that moment to smack Parker hard in the back of the head. Secret-secret-secret stash?
“Oww, what did I do?”
“Secret-secret-secret stash? Exactly how many stashes do you have?”
“Counting the ones you know about?”
I glared at him. I knew about four or five. Usually I emptied a few bottles from one or two a week. “Parker…”
He gave me an evil smile, “Oh Hana, I have booze hidden everywhere.” He leaned over and tried to kiss me. I moved just out of reach. I knew all his tricks, and that wasn’t going to work on me. “Oh don’t act like you don’t know that. Besides, you and I both know that we need a drink right now. We’re going to have to make a lot of phone calls and make some decisions before the end of the day. We need something to numb this pain momentarily to get us through it.”
I agreed, even if I didn’t give him the satisfaction in telling him that. I smacked him again and stood up. He rubbed the back of his head. “Damn woman, you hit hard.”
“Serves you right.”
Casey returned with a bottle of Parker’s vodka. He hugged Parker and me. He didn’t say anything. As he pulled away from our hug he kissed my cheek. I nearly cried again. Casey was like a son to me, and I was happy to know that the feelings were mutual. When I turned around, I found Parker pouring us each a glass of vodka. I sat at the table and like the night before we sipped it in silence. He poured himself another one and a little more in my glass. He spoke up after sipping his second glass. “You have any thoughts on what the doctor discussed today?”
“I don’t know what we should do, but I do know that I don’t want to live the end of my life in a hospital. If that’s my final end, I rather be here in your arms than hooked up and drugged up.”
He downed his glass and poured another.
“You?” I asked.
“Six months isn’t enough time. Hell, another million years isn’t. It’s your choice, though, Hana. I’ll be here for you in whatever decision you make. In the park I made one decision though—I’m retiring. I’ll hand over my half of the company over to Casey. If he needs help, I’ll help, but my top priority is you—always has been. And I want to spend what little time we have together and doing all kinds of crazy things together.”
“Whatever you want. If you want to spend the rest of your time with family, I will drive and fly to visit everyone. We can go to Egypt and visit Oni. To Neverglade to see Jahi and Charlie.”
“And . . .” He shot the rest of his glass and poured another. I almost smiled. Even after twenty-five years he still was jealous. “And we can visit…Scott. Whatever you want, or decide Hana.”
“What about just the two of us? Maybe France? Relive our honeymoon.”
A smile spread across Parker’s face, “I’d love to take you to France, and relive those moments. And this time I won’t have to go on a job. We can do anything you want. You name it, we’ll do it.”
“I want Christmas, here, the entire family—including your brothers.”
Through clench teeth Parker answered, “Fine.”
I chuckled, “You’ll survive one night with them.”
“I only go through that kind of torture for you.”
“It’s not that bad. You’ve been through worse kinds of torture.”
“I don’t know. Getting my eye ripped out, or an evening with the guy who slept with my wife?” He used his hands as if he was weighing the decision.
I smacked him, “Shut up.”
Parker smiled that smile. “Love you, Moneypenny.”
“Love you too, James. Now, who do we call first?”
We spent the next three hours calling my children. I made promises to each one that I would visit them and made them promise to come to the house for Christmas. No one hesitated, they all promised they would be here for Christmas. Next, I dialed my grandchildren. Jamie, Cait, and Dani. I went through the same heartache with them as I did with the kids, and then more, because they were my grandchildren. Cait and Jamie also had my great-grandchildren. I was leaving three generation of kids—four, if you counted Parker—and I wasn’t ready to do that. All this, and I still had Kaliq and the rest of his family downstairs to tell. I wasn’t ready to face them. I hung up the phone with Jamie and wiped my eyes. I really wasn’t ready to face Kaliq.
“You ready to go downstairs?” Parker asked.
I shook my head. I hung my head and stared at the dreaded phone. There still was one person I could call. “I have one more call to make.”
Parker stood, “I’ll give you some—“
I grabbed his hand before he tried to walk away, “I want you to stay.” He looked at the chair and debated. Eventually my pleading eyes won him over, because he sat down. I dialed Scott’s number.
“Hey, it’s me.”
“Hey, Hana. Charlie already called. How are you holding up?”
“We’re dealing.” Parker squeezed my hand.
“You’re a fighter babe, just remember that. Is he there with you?” And like Parker, Scott was just as jealous—although he did have a right to be. After all, I did leave him for Parker.
“Yeah, he’s sitting here with me and holding me.”
“Good. He needs to, and I’d kick his ass if he wasn’t there for you.” I almost laughed. Scott could try, but even at their fair ages my money still would go to Parker on that fight. It would not be the first time they fought either, usually every couple times we saw Scott when we visited Charlie, Parker and Scott would go to blows. Each time Scott would start the fight and Parker would end it. “You mind if I talk to him?”
I did. They usually spat insults on the phone when they talked. Still, I handed over my phone. I didn’t think that there was room for an insult today. “He wants to talk to you,” I told Parker.
Parker took the phone. “Yeah?…” There were a lot of yeahs, no’s, and other non telling phrases and words. No insults. No shouting. In the end, Parker said, “Don’t worry, Scott. She’s in great hands…We’ll make sure we visit a few times, and you and Sean are welcome to join us for Christmas if you wish.”
It astounded me that he invited Scott without me having to say anything. My mouth hung open as he hung up the phone.
Parker chuckled, “He sends his love, but had to go. There was a fire.”
I didn’t know what to say. Usually if Scott says anything about the four letter L-word, Parker gets enraged. Who was this man, and where was my Parker?
Parker stood and offered his hand, “Come on, lets go tell our son and his family.”
I gulped, took his hand, and stood. Parker unlocked and opened the door that connected to the rest of the house. We kept the door locked at all times usually. We hardly used it. Normally we used the garage door. Pear and Penny were in the den area playing video games. I was surprised Anna wasn’t there, but then again, Casey might have told her not to hang out at the house today. It would be something he’d do for Parker and I.
Parker tapped Pear’s shoulder. Pear took off his headphones, “Yeah?”
“Where’s your mom and dad?”
“Uh, downstairs, I think.”
“Get Penny and come with us. We need to talk to all of you.”
Pear unceremoniously took off Penny’s headphones. Her protests were cut off when Pear said, “Grandma and Grandpa wants us downstairs. Come on.”
“Fine,” Penny grumbled. Parker and I both quietly chuckled. She did enjoy her video games. Penny told Kaliq and anyone who would listen about wanting to become a professional gamer. She even started her own blog reviewing games.
Downstairs we found Kaliq and Riddle making out on the couch. “Ah, gross!” Pear yelled. Kaliq and Riddle froze. It was then I noticed that Riddle had her hand down my son’s pants. I turned my head into Parker’s shoulder. He chuckled and I tried not to. When their kids noticed, Pear made sure it was known. “Oh. My. God. MOM!”
I laughed with Parker.
“Make sure you wash your hands next time you eat. He pisses with that thing.”
“I do more than piss with it.”
“Ewwww,” Penny said.
Parker and I couldn’t contain our laughs. At least it wasn’t us that didn’t get caught doing those types of things. Not like that hadn’t happened. We were known for having a very sexualized relationship. Hey, we weren’t dead…yet. That stopped my laughs. That stopped everything. Parker felt me tensed, and he must have known what I was thinking because he tightened his hug.
I took a few deep breaths. I had to remind myself to keep it together for the next few minutes. My family couldn’t see me cry. It was time to be strong and brave for them. I turned and was happy to see that Kaliq had fixed his pants.
“Why are you all down here anyway?”
“Dunno. Grandpa told us to come down.” Pear turned toward us, “Please tell me you guys didn’t bring us down here to show us that Mom and Dad still do it.”
“Uh, no.” Parker laughed. “Sit. Your Grandma and I have some news to share.”
Kaliq tensed up a bit. “News?”
When Pear and Penny were sitting next to their parents, Parker squeezed my hand. “You want to tell them or do you want me to?” He asked.
Parker faced the four on the sofa, “A week or so ago, Hana discovered a lump on her breast, and went to the doctor. Today we found out the results of her tests. The docs,” Parker’s voice cracked, “the doctor said—Christ, I can’t even say it.”
“I have cancer.” I finished his thought. “I have cancer in my lymph nodes which have metastasized all over my body.”
“How—how long?” Kaliq’s voice shook.
“Maybe six months to a year with treatment.”
“Fuck,” Kaliq stood. He rushed to me and hugged me.
“I’m so sorry, son.” I croaked out.
More arms surrounded me as the rest of the family and Parker hugged me. I’ve never been so lost or loved in my life. What was my family going to do without me?