When the oncologist called and told me they wanted to share the scan results in person, you knew better than to listen to me when I said I could do the appointment solo. I had argued with my doctor about needing a mammogram at all, skipped my first appointment, and never researched any diagnosis details past Stage Two – I just didn’t think it was possible.

We were slow to understand as they spelled out what was happening in my seemingly healthy body. We were so slow that I think the oncology team must have wondered about us a bit.

How could I have metastatic cancer?

We have a 3-year-old. Right now, his favorite human is mommy.

I have work I love and many, many things to do.

You got mad at the oncologist when she offered us a range – the number of years we still have together as a family. You thought she was selling hopelessness – after all, she has no idea what we are capable of together.

Her face was serious, though, and according to the research I comb through in the middle of most nights, the estimate she gave us was actually generous.

I wake up at 3am most mornings to plan for her range. The house is quiet at that hour. You see, there is so much paperwork to do, so much to arrange. I am afraid of missing a detail or forgetting something that will make it easier for you two to be happy and successful and comfortable when I’m gone. If I could plan and color-code my way out of cancer, I would have done so by now in one of these morning sessions.

I wish I could show you how much I love you by planning.

Character is most visible when times are tough and people are scared. We’re scared now. So many disappoint in those trials, but not you. I don’t want to let you down more than my failing systems are letting us down already. I don’t want you to know how scared I am of MRI machines. I don’t want to slow us down.

You always show up and make me better.

We’ve seen challenge and surprise before. Not like this, though. This, you know, will be something we will handle together for a little bit but then you’ll have to shoulder it ALL on your own. Our home, our finances, our baby, his future. I wanted Dartmouth or something equally fancy for him. I wanted him to play soccer and I wanted to be his coach one season (maybe more) until he asked me not to embarrass him anymore. I wanted him to swim in meets and I wanted to be a bit judgmental of his girlfriends. Will you please do all that for him? Will you tell him how very much I would have loved to?

You are more present now than when we were broke and doing too much studying and trying to make it in strange, lonely cities. I see your character. I see you showing up and it makes me feel like Matthew will be ok.

He has you.

I love you more, teammate.