We have our whole lives ahead of us…
Recently, all talks of Tanner’s future stopped.
“Yes, of course I know you’re sick, but you’re getting treatments, right? You’re getting better.” I know it before the words cross my mouth that it isn’t the truth, and somewhere in my mind, I am hoping he would continue the lie he’d been reciting over the last few months. That it is getting better. That it is going to be okay.
I search his eyes for any sign that he is about to tell me that he’s made a miraculous recovery but the hope in his eyes is dying right before me. “Ray, I stopped responding to treatment.”
I feel like someone is punching me in the gut.
No, in the heart.
“But there is something else they can do, right? Some other treatment? Here,” I say, grabbing my laptop off my night stand, opening it up. “Let’s Google what else there is to try. Maybe something Eastern or holistic.” My fingers flew across the keyboard as I tried to find something that I knew didn’t exist. Tanner might be done lying to me but I’m not done lying to myself.
“Ray,” Tanner says softly, shutting my laptop and tipping my chin up so that our eyes meet. “There is nothing else. Trust me, they’ve tried everything.” Tanner has been in and out of the hospital too many times to count since he got sick. At one point, he was away more than he was home because his parents were flying him around the country from specialist to specialist. “But we have time. There is nothing else they can do for me but what I have is slow growing. I’m not going to see graduation, but they think I have six months, maybe a year. Possibly more.”
Six months. A year. One more birthday with Tanner, one more Christmas. We are fifteen. Life isn’t supposed to end at fifteen. Life should just be beginning. There are so many things Tanner wasn’t going to get to experience. Prom. Graduation. Having kids.
We have the rest of our lives…
I just always thought the rest of our lives would be longer than six months. A year. “That’s no time at all,” I admit, hot tears form in my eyes and spill out onto my cheeks. Tanner leans over and wipes a tear away. His chestnut brown eyes may have lost hope but there is still life in them. There would be no brown-eyed curly haired kids with his eyes calling him Daddy.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” I say, leaping from the bed. I barely make it to the bathroom before emptying the contents of my stomach into the toilet until I am heaving and nothing else comes up.
I make a promise right then and there, leaning over that toilet bowl, that I am going to make the best of the time we have left. To do everything I could to make sure that when Tanner goes out, he would go out having experienced everything he could before his time was up. I flush the toilet and brush my teeth. When I go back out into my room, Tanner is leaning up against my headboard staring out the window. Clouds are rolling over the sun, casting an eerie shadow over his body. “How are you feeling right now?” I ask, making my way over to him. “Physically.”
“They gave me some meds this morning. I was hurting for a bit, but now I’m actually feeling pretty good. If they didn’t just tell me that I was going to be worm food in a year I would probably be feeling great.” He flashes me a small smile and I wince at his words, knowing full well that they are partial if not all lies, but my resolve to give him everything and more in the time I still have him is strong and keeps me focused on the beautiful curly-haired boy on my bed. “Are you okay?” he asks me. I let out a laugh.
“Are you really asking me if I’m okay?” I snort.
Tanner, finding the humor in his question, laughs too. “Yeah, I guess I am.” Throughout the years it’s been that smile of his that’s taken me out of every dark place I’ve even been in and although my family situation is far from ideal, Tanner always makes me feel like as long as I have his smile, I am the luckiest girl in the world.
“Can I try something?” I ask. He looks at me and raises a brow.
“Sure, what’s up?”
I don’t answer, instead I pull my t-shirt over my head and unclasp my bra. “What are you doing?” he whispers, his eyes wide as he stares at my bare breasts for the first time.
“Just tell me if I hurt you,” I say pushing my jeans shorts down until I am only in my cotton panties.
“Ray, you don’t have to do this. I don’t want you to have sex with me because you feel sorry for me. I don’t want pity sex from you.”
“Pity sex?” I bark loud enough for other people in the house to hear. “Pity sex?” I repeat in a whisper. “Tanner Redmond, this isn’t pity sex. This is just making the most out of life.” I straddle him and look for signs of him being in pain. There aren’t any. I grab his wrists and place the palm of his hands on my breasts.