We contemplated the ride for a while. Knew it had breathtaking twists and turns. Knew we couldn't really afford the trip. And, so we turned our backs, pretended it wasn't there.

July 23, 2013 Voldemort
We haven’t said the word. Sort of like Harry Potter- “Don’t say the name.”  We’ve talked about the ‘mole’. We refer to his 'toe'. I set up ‘the screening’. But we are loathe to say it. To verbalize the word would make the possibility all too real. It stands there just beyond my reach, taunting me with billboards and ads and facebook posts. It is the ghost that haunts my days and keeps me awake at night. Worse than anything in the closet or hiding under the bed, it is brazenly mocking me in broad daylight. 

And, then, the roar of the wheels could no longer be ignored. Reluctantly, we got on.

July 31, 2013 Screening
Four a.m. his alarm jolts me out of a fitful sleep. I lay there, in that ignorant moment, wondering why there’s a heaviness in my stomach.
Then I remember. 
Screening day. 
I scoot across the bed and push my body next to his. Wrapping my arms around him, I bury my face in his back. 

I hate this part of the ride--slowly click-clacking up the rise, the anticipation turning my stomach into knots. Waiting, waiting. Trying, but not succeeding in NOT thinking about what could happen when we finally hit the top and begin the speedy descent. 

August 15, 2013 The Abyss
We are standing on the edge. Behind us, the life we have known, lit brilliantly by familiarity. We have our trials, but they are known and somewhat comfortable. We have worked with them so long, the ups and downs no longer make us breathless. 
Before us is darkness. A place we have never gone, never wanted to. So many unknowns and uncertainties. The black air crackles with dread.
And, we wait. 
Will we be pulled back into the security of life as we know it, or shoved forward into the dim of doubt and fear? And I wonder- is my lamp of faith filled? Have I prepared myself sufficiently for the night ahead? Or will I come up lacking—finding my oil inadequate for the path before me?
We wait.

And, then, I can't breathe. The wind blows my hair violently behind me and I close my eyes. We are thrown from side to side, turned upside down--wondering if and when our world will be right again.

August 22, 2013 A new reality
The phone rang and when I picked it up, I saw the face of the Handy Man smiling at me. 
I knew. After days of waiting, my heart dropping each time my phone made any noise, I knew.
“Dr. C called. It’s positive.”
For one, brief, ignorant moment, I thought positive meant good news. You know—positive.  No. For once, positive is not a good thing. 
My husband, who has taken a handful of sick days in 20 years, who never, I mean hardly ever, goes in the sun, has skin cancer. It’s all too ironic. 
The next two hours are the worst of my life. My mind gives way to all the possibilities I've been trying to keep at bay. I look up "how to tell your children", and mortality rates for melanoma (not a great idea). And I cry.
Then, I get another call. The doctor called back and explained that the cancer is not fast growing. They're going to do surgery to remove it and that will be it. We don't even have to see an oncologist. They'll simply amputate his toe. 
Yes. Amputate. 
And, yet, I'm relieved. So much so I don't know what to do. I cry more. And I pray. 

Of all the things I didn't want, I didn't want to bring our children on this ride. Children live in a bubble of invincibility. At least ours do. But, it must be done. 

August 25, 2013 Confessions
We told the kids last night. We tried to downplay the seriousness. "Dad is having his toe cut off." We saved the word 'cancer' for the end, emphasizing that it will be gone with the toe. The little boys were easy, fascinated. "His whole toe?"  The older ones were quiet, thoughtful. After dinner, I walked by Sadie's room and saw her in her daddy's arms. Of all of them, she is crying, afraid. She's always been Daddy's Girl. All of our reassurances couldn't keep her from those thoughts--what would I do without him? 
She's so much like me.

I have no idea how my husband feels. Not big on sharing, that Handy Man. But, he knows how I feel. I have told him over and over, "A toe is a small price to pay to have you with me."

And, here we are. My stomach is nauseous from the twists and turns. I am tired. But, the end of the ride is near, we can see it in the distance. Thankfully. We know it could have been much worse, could have been a much longer ride. 

Now, to make this a little less negative- our first day of school pics.


  1. Oh Julie, I'm sorry! I hope you will have peace through this and that the ride will be short. Let me know if you need anything.

    And your kids look great!!

  2. Eek! I am so sorry to hear that! Prayers and love coming your way!

  3. Ugh! I am so sorry! Melanoma is the reason we put Addison through everything she had done, or rather to prevent it. Praying for a quick end to the ride, and a longer, more calm ride soon.

    And happy quiet day...I know exactly how you feel on that one.

  4. Wow! I'm so glad he's going to be okay! How scary!

  5. Oh my gosh, Julie! I am so sorry you are all having to go through this. I will be saying extra prayers. Stupid stupid Cancer!! Let me know if you want to talk, not drink, or eat chocolate. I got your back. Love, Mar


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