It had been three weeks since Florence met with Dr. Shillman and his nurses. Ellis and her mother wanted to be in the room when the doctor spoke, however, Florence asked them to leave. She didn’t want them to console her, she just needed to make peace with this now. After all, she was the one who needed to be stronger. Florence was told that chemotherapy and radiation would be her best chance to even have the next six months. Without these treatments, she had two months.
Florence, in her mind, made the decision to start the treatments in thirty days. Thirty days for everyone else, thirty days for her. This sounded logical and was the best way for Florence to leave if she had to go. She started mapping in her mind the places she would visit, the money that would be spent, and the way she could help Ellis go through the transition. Florence had been through two people dying, watching them breathe their last breath and their veins collapse after the last heart beat happened. Florence cringed at the thought of her mother and her husband watching her do this.
“Have you told them?” Florence asked the doctor on that day as she looked through the hospital window to the hall where her family stood.
“ Yes, they know,” the doctor said with hesitation.
“Oh.” Florence looked around and then to the hall again. “Well, I want 30 days before I start treatment.”
“Mrs. Florence, I don’t think that…” He was cut off by Florence’s words.
“I need thirty days with my family. This is killing me and I need to live.” Tears streamed out of Florence’s right eye. The left eye always took longer to catch up when crying. She didn’t really want to cry at all. However, she couldn’t help it. She was arguing for her right to live. “Live” did not mean just breathing, it meant experiencing life.
“I understand.” The doctor then looked deep in thought. “Do you want to tell them or would you like me to?”
Florence smiled. “Thank you. I need to.” The doctor nodded. He and the three nurses that had been in the room without Florence even realizing their existence started to leave. They all walked out of the room in a line, each holding the door open as they passed Jane and Ellis.
Ellis smiled as he walked in. Florence tried to smile and was successful, but barely. She had been watching Ellis slowly rip at the seams in front of her. She knew his face, his mind, and his spirit. As she watched him walk in, and tears started marking his face, she knew she had made the right decision to give him her first thirty days.