"It was cancer, that started it all - or – what started to end it all. John remembered him and Mary sitting there in a dimly lit doctor’s office, complete with skeleton and prehistoric computer, listening to a monotone voice and staring at an x-ray of a pair of lungs that didn’t mean anything to them. They could have easily been anyone’s lungs; the doctor’s lungs, a homeless person’s lungs, the lungs of some woman at a retirement home, or, even better, just decoration. But they weren’t just anyone’s lungs, they were Mary’s lungs and they had cancer in them".
“Ma'm, do you even realize how sick you are?” Mary didn’t, but she did. She had not been feeling well for months, starting with a little pain in her throat, which she just figured was a cold. However, it never went away, it got worse and before long, she was coughing all day long, had terrible pains in her leg and couldn’t eat, walk or do anything else but sit all day. A smoker that can’t stop coughing, with an unidentified illness that progresses through the entire body. Only two lovers in denial would not be able to identify that as cancer, and in love the couple was, even after more than thirty years of marriage.
Unfortunately, there was someone else who didn’t identify the disease as cancer, and that was Mary’s doctor, who pretty much killed her. At least that’s how John saw it, simply because he didn’t know that it would have been a lost battle anyway, no matter how soon they might have caught it. Deep down, that was probably something he realized, but blaming the doctor was much easier, for the simple reason that you can’t punch cancer in the face. “Ma'm, do you even realize how sick you are?”. Another reason for John to hate his doctor. He could think of no valid reason for someone to ever ask such a question.
To him it felt like asking a victim of a car crash if he realizes how much he is bleeding, or asking a widow if she realizes how lonely she really is. It’s a question that doesn’t do anyone any good, and it didn’t do John or Mary any good. It made Mary cry, it made John cry and it made two carefully built worlds fall apart. What it didn’t do, however, was make Mary realize how sick she really was. That’s what caused most of John’s anger. Because what they should have been asking was: “Mam, do you realize that you are going to die very soon and that in the next three weeks, it’s best to focus on saying goodbye and take care of things?” Maybe then, John thought, they wouldn’t have lived in denial for three weeks, maybe then they would have gotten the chance to say goodbye properly in stead of wasting three valuable weeks of life undergoing tests and treatments, when doctors knew that it was a waste. A waste of time that is – not of money. Maybe then he wouldn’t have had to lose himself in anger every single day, desperate for an answer: “Why? Why like this? Why her? Why us?”. Then again, maybe not.