“Cancer sucks.” Marilyn chuckled softly. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“What kind do you have?” Franny asked. She had been curious since finding out Marilyn was ill. She’d assumed cancer, but had never brought up the subject herself. Marilyn never made room for this conversation, not until now, in the hospital.
“Not me, dear,” Marilyn said. “Douglas.”
Franny had nearly fallen off the uncomfortable visitor’s chair. “Douglas? Has cancer?”
“Yes, of course. His prostate. Put off his PSA until it was too late.”
Cold fingers danced up Franny’s spine. “Too late. Is Douglas, is he, dying?”
“Oh no, at least, not right this minute. He’s having it out, though, his prostate, and he feels terrible.”
“I thought that was a relatively minor kind of surgery, though,” Franny said. “I suppose any surgery can make someone feel really sick.”
“He feels terrible that he can’t be here with me. Douglas is a true gentleman, Franny, and he would be here if he could. But the doctor sent him home to recover. Apparently hospitals have a lot of germs.” Marilyn’s eyes twinkled from her pallid face. “I told him I would refuse to see him if he snuck in.”
“He loves you, that’s clear to anyone with eyes to see.” Franny fought tears that threatened to overflow. Powerful love always made her weepy. And the thought of these two people, Douglas and Marilyn, having to say goodbye to one another was more than she could bear. She rose, bustling, thinking of a reason to say she had to go.
“You’d be amazed how willfully we can avoid seeing love that is right in front of us, Franny.” Marilyn’s voice was quiet, and her eyes were closed. “I know. I’ve avoided seeing it for years. And you are, too. Willfully not seeing. But remember that no one can force your eyes open for you. There is such a thing as realizing love too late. The universe doesn’t always send you a message, a white feather or silver horse. Sometimes, dear, we have to fight ourselves for ourselves. Fight the layer of fear and grief that paralyzes us, so that we can move freely into love.”
Speechless, Franny sat back down in the uncomfortable chair. She waited, but Marilyn had soon fallen back into a restless sleep.