Hannah had cancer.
Joe allowed himself to feel the full impact of the
news. Fear and grief twisted through him.
They’d just gotten together, Ben was finally
talking and laughing again. They’d started
building the foundations for a new family, a new
way of living. Rage gripped him, so powerful he
wanted to slam his fist into the wall.
She deserved better. So did he. He’d buried his
wife, his kids had buried their mother. Didn’t
they all deserve a freaking break?
Without stopping to think, he strode out of the
house. He stopped only when he’d arrived at
her front door. He hammered on the door,
anger and fear driving him. He waited a few
heartbeats, then knocked again, his muscles
He was raising his hand to knock a third time
when the door opened. Robyn stood there, her
face very pale.
“I need to see her.”
Robyn shook her head. “I’m sorry, but she
doesn’t want to see you.”
“I don’t care. There are some things she needs
Robyn eyed him steadily. “Have you ever dealt
with a very sick person before, Joe? I have. My
mother died from bowel cancer. Took her two
years to fade away to nothing. ”
‘I’m sorry, that must have been tough. But
that’s not going to happen to Hannah. ”
“I hope not. But it might. Things are going to
get scary. She’s going to be up and down, weak
and strong, high and low.”
“I don’t care.”
Robyn nodded. “Good. Now come back
tomorrow and say the same thing. ”
He swore. “I want to talk to her now.”
“She won’t talk to you. She wants to protect
“That’s my decision, not hers.”
“What about your children? ”
“They love her.”
“And what if they lose her?”
“Hannah is not going to die.”
He closed his eyes and swore again. He had
children. He was their sole guide in life, their
everything. No matter what he wanted to do,
what his gut was telling him, he had to put his
“I’ll be back tomorrow. ”
He made the short walk to his house. He went
straight to the cupboard in the living room
where he kept his stash of whiskey and poured
himself a drink. He sat down at the table, the
bottle on one side, the glass on the other.
And then he thought about Hannah, Ben and
Hannah sniffed loudly. Her mother passed her
another handful of tissues, her third since Joe
had marched away from their front door.
“This is the right thing. Hannah said for the
tenth time. He sounded angry. I knew he’d be
angry, but once he thinks about it he’ll know
Her mother shifted on the bed beside her. “He
was very angry. Sad too. I think.”
“Thank you for answering the door. I appreciate
“He said he’d be back tomorrow. ”
“Fine. I’ll tell the same thing. ”
“He loves you.”
Hannah took a deep breath. “Mom, I’m scared.
Her mom pulled her against her chest. “Of
course you’re scared. Cancer is scary. But
people beat it all the time, Hannah. And you’re
going to be one of them.”
“Thank you, Mom.”
Her mother looked surprised. “What for?”
“Not falling apart. ”
They talked until they’d both run out of things
to say. Finally Hannah let her mother tuck her
She rolled and stared into the darkness. She
had no tears left to cry. Tomorrow she will face
the reality of her new life.
Hannah had cancer.