Michael took a bit of a dive when I went to Chicago. He had a really hard time with me leaving for so long (5 days). I was scheduled to go to Dallas for a friend’s wedding this weekend but I’m not comfortable leaving him again so soon so I didn’t go. He has been on a steady uphill climb since I’ve been back and I don’t want to interrupt it.

Yesterday I finally snapped and yelled at my caregivers for their incessant negative chit chatting about me and my kids. I won’t go into it here but it’s disrespectful and inappropriate and I finally snapped. My main concern is Michael who, when he was well, would never tolerate one untoward word about me for anyone. I could just imagine how helpless it would make him feel to not be able to rise to my defense. So, I was advocating for Michael and for his mental health, as in “don’t talk about me in front of him” which is what they do. I said I don’t give a damn what they think about me but I don’t want him subjected to it. He stayed silent throughout and when I was done he looked them square in the eye and said, “We’ve got each other’s back.”

Later on he grabbed my hand as I walked by and said, “I love you sweetie.” and I said “I love you too.” and bent down and kissed him.

It was vintage us. And it made me smile. For a long time.

I am getting him an MRI and have been talking him into going back on chemotherapy. He does not get nauseous from it but has trouble swallowing the pills. And back at the end of January he refused his last two doses. So I left him alone in February but with the recent surge I thought maybe we could start up again.

We’re beyond the original prognosis period and he’s getting stronger and not weaker. So I was thinking that perhaps there is more hope than we were originally led to believe. So I talked to the doctor and we agreed to get an MRI, see where we are and make treatment decisions. He’s been on palliative care only since January. But perhaps the radiation had more of an effect than we knew. Perhaps the chemo has really stopped the tumors from growing.

After yesterday’s conversation I really thought he was on his way back. He was so lucid and so strong when he said, “We have each other’s backs.” and when I passed him an hour or so later he seemed to be eager to thank me for my advocacy. Later on I bought him clams and lobster and shrimp and he devoured it. He ate on his own and kept chirping about how good it was. Just like the old Michael. My brain was thinking, “He’s BACK! He’s BACK!

My hopes soared.

Today I stayed home to work from here. He had a hearty breakfast and some more of the fish for lunch. I was still reveling in the recent upswing. Further up than he’s been in months.

I mentioned something about yesterday’s confrontation. He had no idea what I was talking about. I recounted it to him almost word for word. I reminded him saying “We have each other’s backs.” Blank. Just blank.

My heart broke. I realize that I ride the hope train more than I probably should. I have trouble staying in the “this is a good day and that’s all” mode. Since he’s beaten his original prognosis I’m hopeful that he’ll just beat the whole thing. Even though that’s unrealistic.

I tend to live in some weird world between devastating grief that I’ve already lost him and hopeful fantasy that he’ll come back and be well. The ambivalence of cancer just makes it so difficult to stay in a realistic place.

Michael was eating lunch and talking about how good it was. Fantasy On.

Then I went out on the deck to chase a squirrel (in the bird feeder) away.

When I came back, he said to me, “What was all that commotion about?”

“I had to shoo away a squirrel.”

“By yourself?” By myself? Fantasy Off.

“It was just a squirrel, hon. I didn’t exactly need a chair and a whip.”

And he laughed and laughed.

Fantasy On.