How Did This Happen?

I was looking at the flower arrangement that had been delivered earlier that day.  It was waiting for me on the porch, when I got home from teaching that afternoon.  I knew immediately it had to be from Tom.

We’d been dating two weeks now, and had seen each other every single day.   The idea of something casual flew out the window right away for both of us.  Within a few days, we knew that something much more serious than either of us had planned on was happening between us, and we decided just to go for it.  Tom came over my house in the evenings if my mother wasn’t around, or I went over to his house if she was home and could stay with Zach.  He visited me at work if I had late conferences, bringing me dinner.  On a day off of work when teachers had professional development, he asked me to drive to his office so he could introduce me around and we could have lunch together.

This was different than my previous two serious relationships.  We were both already living more adult roles; both of us were working (albeit unpaid jobs) and we could clearly see our paths as they stretched out into the future.   I knew he had to go back to school in June for the summer term, but for now I wasn’t thinking about it.

The house was quiet now; my mother and Zach were both in bed.  I pulled out the card and reread it:

“Thought you might need these today, but I hope you don’t.  I wish I was there with you.  Everytime you look at these remember that I am thinking of you.”

Tom was out of town, the first day we hadn’t seen each other since we’d started dating.  He was in Ohio crash testing cars for a few days for the auto company he was working for.  He was going to be an engineer, and this trip was an exciting moment for him.  I was excited for him and the opportunity the trip represented for him.

But my excitement and happiness with my newfound boyfriend was tinged with something else today.  The reason for the flowers wasn’t just because Tom was away.  He knew that my mother was supposed to go to the doctor today to get the results of her three month follow up scans.  They took them weeks ago but between her work schedule and the doctors’ schedules, it had taken a while for her to go in for the results.  After her bronchoscopy last November, the doctors had insisted on follow up scans to see if the abnormality they had detected in her lungs was changing.  If it didn’t change, that meant it was likely congenital and no big deal.  But if it had changed in any way, that meant that they were going to have to do more extensive surgery to see exactly what it was they were dealing with in her chest.  They had sent her for CT scans and MRI scans as well as the shadowy x rays.

And the news was not good.  Indeed, the area of concern was scanning larger and more prominently than it had a few months ago.  Today, my mother had been referred to another doctor at one of the larger hospitals in the area; a surgeon.   I would have to take her there in a few days so that he could go through all of the ins and outs of the surgery and get it scheduled.   This time, everything seemed much more serious.

The phone rang; I knew it would be Tom to ask me how the doctor’s visit went with my mom.  No one else would call this late.  I answered the phone, sitting on the kitchen floor with its long cord in a pile next to me..  I thanked him for the beautiful flowers, and we talked a little about his day at the crash test facility.  Finally, he asked about the doctor, although he could tell by my flat responses that the news had likely been bad.  I fidgeted with curly phone cord as I told him that the news was pretty much the worst case scenario.  I started to cry as I worried out loud as to what the possible outcome of the surgery might be.  He was quiet but sure in his reassurance, and told me he’d be there every step with me as I navigated the next few weeks.

I wondered what those few weeks might bring.

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