I’m happily vacuuming my living room, thinking about a conversation Corey and I had last night during a quick break at work.
“Sheila was really calm when I told her I want a divorce. I think it’s all going to be okay. She isn’t happy either. We agreed she and the girls will live in the house, and I’ll get an apartment. Sheila says she’ll let me know what else she wants after talking with her lawyer. I’m okay with that. I just want out, and shared custody of our girls.”
“This is happening so fast, Corey. You’re sure this is what you want?”
“It’s what I want. I can’t wait until we can let everyone know we’re in love. You still want it too, right Niki?”
“Yes, it’s what I want.”
We’re in love. I just have to be patient a few more weeks. Jumping ahead, I wonder if it’s better to introduce Maddie to Corey at a restaurant, or a quiet dinner here at home? I wonder what his daughters like to eat? I wonder if either of them have food allergies? I make a mental note to ask Corey.
The phone rings, startling me out of my daydreaming. There’s a ping of anxiety in my stomach when I see it’s Corey. He never calls in the middle of the day. Then I remember he’s told Sheila he’s leaving. It’s okay. We don’t have to hide anymore.
“Hey! What’s up, babe?”
“Um Niki, I can’t talk long. I’ve got something to tell you,” his tone is serious, and then his voice breaks. I can tell he’s on the verge of sobbing.
“Corey, what is it? Are you okay? Are your girls okay? What’s wrong?” He inhales deeply before speaking. “It’s not me or the girls, Niki. It’s Sheila. She found a lump in her breast. We just came back from the doctor’s office. It’s cancer. Sheila has breast cancer.”
“Corey, I’m sorry. That’s terrible. How’s she’s taking it?”
“She’s upset, of course, but otherwise taking it pretty well. We won’t know more until we see the oncologist. They have to run more tests. We haven’t told the girls yet; we want more information first. I’m taking her to the appointments, and helping her ask questions of the doctors, finding out her options. I’m on stand by for now, Niki.”
“I understand, Corey. Do what you have to do, and keep me updated.”
“Thank you Niki. I will.
“Let me know what I can do to help.”
“I gotta go. I love you Niki.”
“I love you too, Corey.”
After Corey hangs up, I finish vacuuming, no longer worried about introducing him to Maddie for now. My emotions are jumbled: guilt, and concern for Sheila, disappointment that Corey’s and my plans are on hold. I hear my mother’s words from childhood, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Don’t get your hopes up about things before they actually happen, you’ll always be disappointed.”
Maybe if I were more spiritual, I’d consider this Karma. Maybe I’ve attended too many pediatric deaths to believe. Maybe I’m too numb to know how I feel at this moment: There’s sadness, and guilt, for sure, but deep down inside, unexpectedly I detect a small amount of relief too.