Words so small

December 10, 2021


Alert, hon—I am all over the place with this letter. Obviously, my mind cannot be pinned down today. I have many thoughts just swirling around in my head, but I know you also feel this way.

Until cancer, I did not know words could be so small. Words are just too small to express the magnitude of the feelings you go through: shock, fear, anger, anguish, love, grief, gratitude, humility, numb, overwhelmed, exhaustion, disbelief…

When we went to see the oncologist for the first time in Fargo,…

I remember the naïve hope we had sitting in the waiting room witnessing a woman ringing the bell because her cancer was declared gone. I remember telling you, “That will be you someday really soon.” We ignorantly thought this was an occasion that happened every day there. So far, after months of treatment, it has been the only one. I am still hopeful that this was a good omen for us, even though the news we have had lately has not gone in that direction.

We were called back to the exam room, where this hope was dashed to smithereens within seconds! You held it together so much better than I did, until you were told you had maybe two years to live. And then I can still see your expression of fear, pain, disbelief, and hear your constricted voice state, “Oh my god! What about the kids?”

That is why you are such a wonderful father!

You always think of them first. Not how hard this was going to be for you, but how this was going to be so painful for the children. I, on the other hand, was thinking of you and worried about how much pain you might be in, how sick you were going to become, hoping you could have a quality life in the little amount of time you have left.

Shell-shocked and numb, we went through the motions without quite understanding how we could still walk back to the car. Once there we relived it all again, asking each other, “Is that what you heard? Did we hear correctly?” Disbelief because we were so sure we had caught it early.

The grief would come in waves.

There would be a calmness, a steadfast sureness that “We can do this; we will defy the odds. We are meeting with the surgeon next. She will be able to do the miracle that needs to happen.” And then, such a crushing grief. It is such an overused explanation, but it is the best way to describe it—an ocean wave comes crashing in on you so profoundly that you lose all senses other than the crushing weight coming down on your whole body, and there’s nothing you can do but to wail such a guttural, feral, anguished cry that leaves you gasping for breath.

Later that night, eating at the restaurant, we are so quiet. Other than “I love you,” and ordering, nothing was said and yet, in that silence, so much was spoken. We just held hands and went through the motions while we silently made a pact to do what needed to be done for the other, to get through this hell intact and together!

With all my love, Nicole

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  1. I am speechless I can't even begin to imagine how horrible it had t have been to hear that news I felt the same way Mitch takes good care of himself physically healthy all I can say is why and its not fair. All I can say is you and your family are amazing and things will be ok and everyday I keep praying that Mitch will be that miracle!!! Hugs to you he has an amazing support system!!!

    1. Penny,
      I know how gutted you were when you found out. Thank you for the kind comments and feverishly praying for Mitch’s miracle. We have been able to get through this so far because of people like you, Penny. Without your support, I don’t think we would have made it this far.
      Huge hugs,

  2. I am so sorry. Live each day to the fullest, no matter what!! Enjoy each other’s company, make memories, love each other and your kids.

    1. Sharon,
      Thank you! Yes, you are so right. All we can do is make the most of each moment we have with each other. I think it is amazing how when you look at a life with someone, the most cherished memories are the “small”, everyday ones. Everyday, you wake up to a new day is cause for celebration!

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