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The sun has just peeked it’s head up out of the darkness and has kissed the sky with the tones of bright orange and dull pinks. The blue hue of the sky is peeling itself back slowly to remind the world of the beautiful meaning of waking up right before dawn. The clock on the mahogany wood bedside table reads five-thirty and I roll over and there he is; my beautiful chocolate man. I think he can sense that I am awake because he clings to my naked body and wraps me into his arms laying a soft kiss on my forehead and dozes off back into dreamland. I can feel the goosebumps on his skin forming from the sweat on his body being captured by the gentle breeze of the fan moving back and forth at the foot of our bed. Quietly, I slip on my nightgown and slide my cold feet into my pink fluffy slippers. The light from the morning sun is shining through the cracks of our thick winter curtains with enough natural light to brighten the small farmhouse style kitchen.
Vanilla coffee grounds make their way into the coffee filter and as it begins to brew, I open my playlist and jazz music begins to play softly out of the blue tooth wall speaker. I smile and move my body to the slow rhythm of the saxophone. I grab the hair tie from my left wrist and place my big curly brown hair into a messy bun to start making breakfast.
I grab the flour, baking soda, butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla to begin making the famous pancakes from the recipe given to me by my sweet papa.
I cut up about sixteen oranges that I picked up at the farmers market earlier this week and I began to juice them in the juicer that I purchased to make fresh juice every Sunday morning. Silky orange juice continues to fall into the juice jars and citrus aromas fill the air combined with the lingering smell of maple from the crisp bacon.
Just as I turn around to begin prepping the breakfast counter with plates of food, Jacob grabs me from behind with both arms around my waist.
“Good morning sunshine” Jacob utters. “You look very radiant this morning baby.”
He placed a soft kiss on my neck and began to dance with me slowly. I smile at the sight of his beautiful face and realize just how lucky I am to be his wife. He still gives me butterflies to this day even though I’ve known him for over half of my life.
We engage in a slow kiss that matches the tune of the jazz music that is being played and just a few seconds later I start to hear small feet hitting the wood floors.
Childish giggles come from the other end of the breakfast bar as Jayce makes fun of our being intimate, and we laugh right along with him. This innocent time of being a child is a beautiful thing to witness and I worry about how much time I’d have left.
He rubs his sleepy eyes as he takes his first bite of the Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes that I placed at his side of the breakfast bar and sips the fresh orange juice I prepared just moments ago. Just as I go to take my first bite of pancakes, I hear a small whimper that turns into a cry from the other room. Jacob and I look at each other with wide eyes and realize that the morning has officially started. The quiet time that we had is now over, but we always cherish these moments. We made a promise to one another that once we had children, we would never argue, fuss or get upset when our time was interrupted by them. It took us so long to conceive Jayce, and we were even told that I could not bear children. The sweet feet hitting the floors, the giggles, and the cries were all worth it.
I walk over to the crib that says “Leia” and I pick up my sweet baby girl. Grey eyes meet mine, and she immediately smiles at the fact that mommy is here to give her comfort. I open the pink shade on the window, sit myself in the brown rocking chair and begin to nurse.
* * *
“Don’t go too far Jayce!”
The sun was stolen by clouds that created an overcast in the sky and I watched Jayce run towards the lake to skip rocks which was his favorite activity to do in the mornings. I placed Leia in her bouncer and Jacob met me on the little rocks that lived by the lake. All of a sudden a gust of fall wind blew in sending chills up our bodies and I wrapped myself tightly in my long black robe. He handed me a giant warm cup of coffee that he made for me while I was nursing and took a big gulp of his. He closed his eyes and shook his head slowly.
“Nothing better than a warm cup of Joe on a Sunday morning,” he said.
“Extra shots of vanilla, caramel, and heavy cream?” I said as I got ready to indulge in my cup of goodness.
“You know it, baby.”
I took a seat on the big rock that overlooked the lake right near the tree that my father used to bring me to read stories under the starry night sky. This was one of my favorite places to be and I could not help but feel anxious as I started to think about the reason I wanted to come to the cabin this weekend. There was never going to be a perfect time to tell my husband of ten years that I had been diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer just the day before. I was given the option to go through heavy treatments, but I opted against it. I did not want to be weak and dull in front of my family. I needed my last days on this earth to count for something...to mean something. The last thing I wanted was to spend days in the hospital away from my boys and baby girl.
I was trying to remember everything just as it is. I kept looking at my boys and the smiles on their faces as they skipped rocks together. I needed to remember those smiles because those smiles were not tainted with the reality of what was to come. I needed to remember the smell of breakfast, coffee, the sweet smell of my daughter after she finishes nursing, the smell of the fresh air outdoors. Nothing was more important to me than burning these memories into my mind and heart so that I could have them for my last days.
“Hey baby, you alright over here? You seem so quiet,” Jacob asked as he breathes heavily from running from the other end of the lake.
There was never going to be a perfect time.
The longer I hold off, the harder it was going to be for me to break the news.
“Come sit with me, darling.” I said to him softly.
“Darling?” He repeated. “Oh lord, what's the news? Anytime you call me darling it’s always something,” he joked.
“Jayce honey, go inside and wash your hands please. It’s time to wrap it up outside, getting a little chilly!” I yelled. Jayce quickly ran inside and shut the door behind him.
Leia was still snoozing all warm in her bouncer wrapped in three different blankets.
“So what’s going on my love? You know you can tell me anything,” he said with a concerned look.
The strong face that I kept all morning up until now quickly fell through the cracks and the flood gates were opened inside my eyes. I sobbed so hard into the warm arms of Jacob that I couldn’t even think anymore.
He took the hair tie from out of my hair and massaged my head slowly.
“Sweetheart, you have to tell me what’s wrong. I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s the matter.” Tears began to form in his eyes as he knew that what I was about to say next was not going to be an easy pill to swallow. I lifted my head from his chest and I could feel how red my cheeks were from crying so hard. My eyes began to water more from the dry air and I rubbed them until I could catch my breath.
I looked my sweet husband in his eyes and the words that left my mouth felt like daggers scrapping my vocal cords and I uttered with a cracking voice, “I have stage four cervical cancer and I don’t know how much time I have left…”