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Old 02-04-2010, 04:55 PM   #1
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The Bass Player's Wife - Chapter Eight

Well kids, it's been fun. Here we go with the conclusion of The Bass Player's Wife.

Disclaimer: All totally bollocks.

-----

Lucy had gone through six hellish chemo treatments and lived a month longer than any of her doctors said she would. We both thought that meant she was in remission, but after last night, it’s clear that all poisoning her did was repress the cancer. And now that it’s over, it’s growing back.

Dr Moseley doesn’t think her little episode of memory loss is anything to worry about when I phone him the next morning; it’s not uncommon for there to be a little of that as a side effect of the chemo. I know what happened the last time a doctor told us we had nothing to worry about, but I decide to trust him anyway.

I uneasily leave on tour, checking in constantly. I try not to let my performances suffer, and luckily, Lucy reports no more episodes of memory loss. We celebrate her birthday on the 21st of July when we come back to East Rutherford, since the band will be in Denmark on her actual birthday. Also, her first post-chemo appointment is the next day and I want her to be in good spirits.

Dr Moseley draws a whole lot of blood, another ten or so vacuum tubes. He also schedules a full-body MRI and PET scan for September, to give her body more of a chance to bounce back from the chemo. A second-look abdominal surgery is scheduled for late October, to see if the cancer is truly gone.

I’m thrilled that it’s August and she’s still alive, but I start to notice she’ll forget what she’s saying mid-sentence when I’m on the phone with her, or she’ll struggle to remember a name, even mine. When I get home from Italy, she and the kids (and Felicia, and Denise, Lucy’s nurse) meet me at the airport, and she’s got a walking frame propping her up. I instantly feel my insides crumble, but I try to hide my shock from the kids.

“I’m fine,” she assures me on the drive home. “My feet just get a little confused, that’s all.”

“Alright,” I sigh. Arguing isn’t going to change the fact that she can’t walk on her own anymore.

I go with her to her pre-operative appointment and the first thing Dr Moseley does is pass us an image of a skeleton with lots of black spots on it.

“What’s this?” Lucy asks.

“That’s your PET scan. Those spots are where the cancer has spread and grown,” he explains. It’s not lost on me that the biggest one is in her head. It’s everywhere in her chest and belly again, too.

“What does this mean?” I ask, not wanting to know the answer.

“Well, unfortunately, the MRI revealed that the brain tumour is inoperable. We can do what we can about the growths in her liver and lungs and intestine, but the only thing for this brain cancer is more chemo,” the good doctor says.

“Goddamn it!” I stand up. “I called you five months ago, saying there was something wrong. You told me it was nothing.”

“I’m very sorry.”

I walk out of his office into one of his interns. I make her spill a tray of instruments, then glare at her as if that’s her fault.

What if he could have caught and stopped this brain tumour? If he can’t operate, does that mean Lucy’s going to die all the sooner? Am I ready to say goodbye yet?

I walk back into his office and sit down.

“Adam, I don’t want to do chemo again,” Lucy says.

I study her face. She can’t be serious. She will die in a matter of weeks without treatment. “Are you sure?”

“I can’t put you and the kids through that again, and I don’t want to go through it again. We knew this day would come. The cancer’s back. And it is going to kill me,” she swallows hard and looks at the floor. “How long?”

“If we’re being totally optimistic, a month. Maybe two. I know you’re a fighter, but…” Dr Moseley shakes his head. “There’s just no coming back from this.”

“I know,” Lucy nods. “Thank you for everything, Dr Moseley.”

I want to sue this bastard and she’s thanking him. How can she possibly thank him when he’s the one who has essentially killed her with his negligence? I stand when she does and I help her walk out of the office. We don’t talk much for the rest of the day. It’s when I’m helping her into bed that my mouth gets the better of me.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” I mutter as I put her nightie over her head.

“Finally!” Lucy shouts.

“What?” I snap.

“Anger. Emotion. I’m dying and you’ve barely shown any feeling about it before today. It’s nice to know you care, instead of me just being an expensive annoyance.”

“Lucy, you’ve never been an annoyance or a burden. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat if it meant we could have more time together. That’s why I don’t understand why you won’t do chemo again. I know it sucked, but it will give you more time.”

“All chemo is going to do is postpone the inevitable. I’ve been thinking about it and I’m ready to go now. I’ve had four months that I was never supposed to have. I’m so thankful for that. But it’s time to say goodbye,” she strokes my face and kisses me.

And I missed those four months because of the tour. I take her hand. “Alright.” I kiss the back of her hand, the site of too many IVs and blood draws. “I can’t convince you to do anything else, can I?”

“Adam, please know that I’m not doing this because I want to die. I would rather you remember me like this, instead of bald and hunched over a toilet. The kids need a break from all this cancer stuff, too,” She sits on the bed. “As much as I didn’t want to be pregnant, I think a baby would have been less trouble,” she chuckles. “Be careful what you wish for, I guess.”

I kiss her and tuck her into bed. “I love you, Lucy.”

“Love you, too. See you in the morning,” she lays down on her right side and goes to sleep. I go into my office and have a group Skype call with the band. I tell them what Lucy decided at the doctor’s office this afternoon.

“Shit,” Larry mutters and shakes his head.

“Is she serious? She knows she’s dead without further treatment, right?” Bono asks.

“She knows. She’s tired of being sick and I don’t blame her,” I shake my head. “Now I just wait.”

“That’s agony. I went through that with my dad. You don’t want her to go, but every time you walk in the room and her eyes are shut, there’s that jolt of fear that she’s finally gone until you’re able to wake her up,” Bono sighs.

“Well, that’s comforting,” Larry says.

“I just hate that you both have to go through this,” Bono adds, ignoring Larry.

“Hey, they’ve got three kids who are going to lose their mother very soon,” Edge chimes in. “Have you talked to them about this?”

“We will. I don’t know how, because Lola’s probably the only one who can truly comprehend it,” I reply.

“Don’t count Nathan out, he understands a lot more than you think,” Larry reminds me.

“Be honest with Samantha, too, and answer her questions. Death is a big concept for a three-year-old,” Bono says.

“Except that she’s four,” Larry lights a cigarette.

“Five, actually. Lucy got sick right after her fourth birthday,” I say. It’s only been a year since her diagnosis? It feels like a decade.

“Wait, I thought…people like her were, you know, immortal. Why doesn’t she just twitch her nose or whatever and cure herself?” Larry asks, clouding his webcam with smoke.

“Come on, you know Lucy doesn’t use her powers. Didn’t her brother die of cancer, too? Maybe not even they can cure it,” Edge yawns. “Jesus, it’s late.”

“I’m sorry for keeping you guys up. I just needed to talk to someone,” I smile.

“Of course. But Ann’s going to kick my arse if I don’t get to bed soon,” Larry waves goodbye with his cigarette and shuts his laptop.

“Yeah, Ali’s staring me down. Call if you need me,” Bono exits the program.

“You’re not going?” I ask Edge.

“No sense in sleeping now. Kids’ll be up in an hour anyway,” he yawns again. “You okay with her decision?”

“No, but I can’t change her mind. She’s made her peace and she’s ready for this. The best I can do is prepare myself for the moment she’s gone.”

“I can’t say I would have been as level-headed if Sian was terminal,” Edge sighs.

“You were lucky,” I sound like a jealous and sad bastard.

“I’m sorry, Adam,” Edge yawns. “Sorry again. That’s for having to see my tonsils.”

“I’m sorry I snapped. I felt useless before, but now, there’s literally nothing I can do,” I close my eyes to keep myself from crying.

“Just try to make this the best month of her life,” Edge smiles.

“Yeah. I think I better get some sleep,” I suddenly feel exhausted. Edge nods and I close my laptop.

Lucy’s spirits don’t seem to improve, no matter what I do to try to cheer her up. Her death looms like a storm cloud on the horizon, growing blacker as it approaches. God, I'm a poetic bastard.

Two weeks after the visit with Dr Moseley, I decide to take her to a Broadway show. I’m getting ready in the bathroom when I hear, “Adam, help! Denise! Adam!

I stop shaving (after cutting myself) and rush into the bedroom. Lucy’s sitting on the floor, clinging to her walking frame. “What happened?”

“I can’t walk,” she starts to cry. “I can’t walk anymore.”

I pull the walking frame away from the bed, pick Lucy off the floor and set her down on the bed. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. The tumour in my spine must have grown enough to be pressing on those nerves.” She puts her hands in her lap, then quickly lifts them up. “Oh, God, Adam, I…” she blushes “peed.”

“It’s fine,” I reach for a towel to soak up the puddle and another to dry Lucy off. “I’ll go find Denise and we’ll figure something out, okay? So we can still go to the show tonight.” I kiss her forehead. “I’ll be right back. Don’t move.” I walk out of the room, then immediately walk back in. “Sorry about the ‘don’t move’ thing. Denise. I’ll be back.” Lucy giggles.

The nurse and I decide to put Lucy in a wheelchair and she doesn’t object to wearing an adult diaper for the evening. Denise suggests we put in a catheter when we return and Lucy agrees to that, too. I help Lucy change into her evening gown and get settled in the wheelchair.

We barely make it through the first act before Lucy asks me to take her home, saying only that she’s tired. Denise puts in the catheter and Lucy curls up and goes to sleep. She sleeps for the 36 most nerve-wracking hours of my life. Wild horses could not have torn me from her beside. I don’t think I’ve ever drank so much coffee. Lucy finally wakes and Denise insists I go to sleep. She even gives me a sleeping pill. I don’t take it, but I do have a short nap in my office.

Lucy’s fine after the sleep--well, relatively, for her condition. She has a visitor the next afternoon. I’ll give you three guesses as to who it was.

“Tré!” she says, her face brightening for the first time since she was told her cancer has spread.

“Hi, Lucy,” the drummer sits on the edge of the bed and looks like he’s going to burst into tears at any moment. I stand in the doorway between our bedroom and bathroom and observe.

“What are you doing here?” She hugs him.

“A little bird told me you were dying,” he tries to smile, but fails.

“Lies,” Lucy grins, trying to get Tré to joke around with her, but he won't. “Tré. What’s wrong?”

“You are dying, Lucy. Nathan sends me a text message saying we’re through and the next thing I know, you’re dying of cancer. I love you. Doesn’t that count for anything?”

“Tré,” Lucy looks at her hands. “Lots of people love me. And lots of people are going to miss me when I’m gone. It’s going to be okay.”

“Do you know what rock and roll will lose the day you die?” Tré asks. Lucy shrugs and shakes her head. He starts counting things off on his fingers, “The way you turn a hotel room into a home. The way you treat the fans everywhere you go. The way you--you know the words to every song. Every song, even the bad ones. It’s mostly the bad ones.” Lucy smiles and I can see her eyes welling up with tears. “That beautiful voice that can always sing me to sleep.” He strokes her face. “And that radiant smile that can brighten my darkest day.” He kisses her and I clear my throat after it lasts longer than a second. “I could go on, but I’m out of fingers,” he whispers, keeping their foreheads touching.

“Damn,” Lucy whispers and kisses him again. “Tré, I need you to go.”

He sits up. “What? Why?”

“I don’t want you to see me like this. Please, just go,” she wipes away tears from her eyes.

“But Lucy--” Tré tries to protest and I clear my throat again to remind him that I’m in the room. “Alright,” he stands. “Goodbye, baby.” Lucy nods, rolls onto her right side, and sobs. I walk Tré out of the house. On the steps, he stops and turns to me. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset her, you know.”

“I know. You meant well,” I nod.

“I’m not going to see her again till her funeral, am I?” He wipes his eyes. I look at the ground, then shake my head, realising that fact for myself. “Oh, God.” He runs down the steps and hails a cab. Once he gets in, I close the front door and walk upstairs. It dawns on me that all those things Tré mentioned that he will miss when Lucy dies, I will miss, too. I stop halfway up the stairs and sigh. And he’s not going to see her again until her funeral. No one outside of this house will, either. I sigh again. I’m powerless to help any of this. I just have to watch and wait.

I climb in bed next to Lucy and hold her until she calms down. She reaches into the drawer of her bedside table and pulls out a manila envelope.

“These are my funeral plans. I thought you should know where they are. I arranged a lot of it when you were on tour this year,” Lucy puts them away. “It’s time I told the kids what’s going on. Could you go get them?”

“Okay,” I stand up and walk into the sitting room where Nate and Lola are doing homework and Samantha is reading a book with Felicia.

“Is Mummy okay? Tré was sad when he left,” Lola sets down her pencil.

“Mum wants to talk to you guys,” I say. There’s certain reluctance, but they line up like ducklings and follow me to our bedroom.

“Come here, Nate,” Lucy waves him over. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something just because you have Asperger’s. You can rewrite the laws of physics if you want. You are going to do amazing things one day, I just know it. I’m so proud of you, Nathan.”

“Yes, Mom.” She hugs him tight and he kisses her cheek. “I’m going to miss you.”

“Not as much as I’ll miss you. I love you.”

And for the first and last time in his life, he says, “I love you, too.”

Lucy starts to cry, but calms herself down. “Lolita.”

Lola smiles and takes Nate’s place at her bedside. Nate walks out of the room. I think he’s going to go back to his homework, but he goes to his bedroom, sniffling and wiping his eyes.

“Lola. Honey, I know you don’t know yet what you want to be when you grow up, but you’re going to figure out what’s right and you’re going to have the best life you can live. Follow your dreams,” Lucy coughs through the last sentence. “I love you.”

“Mummy, don’t die. Please don’t die tonight,” Lola pleads, crying.

“I’m sorry, Lola-belle. Everything is going to be okay. Daddy’s not going anywhere,” she hugs Lola tight.

“I love you, Mummy,” Lola lays in the bed next to Lucy.

I pick up Samantha and we try to explain to her what’s happening, but it’s too much for her to understand all at once and she starts crying. I take Sam to her bedroom and lay her in her bed. She grabs the teddy bear she’s had since she was with her birth mother and curls up.

Lola stays in our bedroom until her bedtime and I tuck her in her bed. “Do you really think Mummy will die tonight?”

“I don’t know, Lola. I hope not. But it will happen very soon. She wanted to be sure she said goodbye to you guys.” I kiss her forehead and pull her blankets over her. “Night, Lola. Love you.”

“Love you, Daddy,” she lays down and I turn off her light. I close the door behind me as I walk out. When I get back to my bedroom, Lucy smiles at me.

“Your turn,” she says softly. I sit down on the bed, my insides crumbling. “Adam, I cannot truly tell you how much I love you and what it has meant to me that you’ve stood by me through all of this. I know my decision didn’t sit well with you at first, but I’m glad to know that now you respect it. The past 28 years have been an amazing journey, and I know I couldn’t have made it through this last year without you. I’m sorry I ever left you and that I hurt you so badly,” she blinks and tears rolls down her cheeks. “I love you, Adam.”

“I love you, too, baby,” I say and she kisses me like she did on our wedding day. She puts her head on my chest and I hold her until she goes to sleep.

I sit up all night, waiting for her breaths to slow and eventually stop, but by morning she’s still only sleeping. She sleeps through that day, the next and the day after that. The third night, I sort of let myself sleep, but I’d wake myself every few hours to make sure she was still breathing. The fourth day, I’m too exhausted to get out of bed and I ask Felicia to take Samantha to the park or do something fun with her for the day so I can have some peace and quiet while Nate and Lola are in school.

Lucy’s breathing gets irregular and ragged around 11 AM. I call Denise in and she tells me that this is the beginning of the end.

I stroke Lucy’s hair, what has grown back in the months since chemo was stopped. I kiss her cheek. “I love you, Lucy. Now when you’re ready, you let go. Don’t worry about me, or Nate or Lola or Samantha. We’ll be okay, because you’ll always be with us.”

I count her breaths as they slow; one, two three… I hold my own breath and wait for a fourth. Then a fifth. I wrap my arms around her and wait for the sixth. It’s shallow and as she lets it out, I feel her melt away from me. No. Seven. Come on, Lucy. Seven.

“Oh, Lucy,” I sob. I have been preparing myself for this day for so long, but I’m still not ready to let her go. “Lucy, please. I can’t do this without you. Please.” I sob for an hour before I can tell Denise that she’s gone. She calls whoever it is that you call when someone dies. The medical examiner, I guess, and she coaxes me out of the bed just before they arrive. I stand in the doorway between the bedroom and bathroom again and watch as they put her on a stretcher and cover her with the white sheet. I follow them out of the house, stopping on the top step while they load my wife into their van.

They’re taking her away from me. For good. I’ll never hold her or kiss her again.

I will sit with my children in the first pew of a Catholic church in Boston and Patrick and Edge will give eulogies. Bono will sing “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” as was one of her last requests. The kids and I will move back to Danesmoate and resume our lives there.

Lucy won’t see Nathan start university at 15 and get his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at 23. She won’t see Lola discover her voice and follow her mother’s footsteps into the theatre. I won’t have her to support me when Samantha’s birth mother gets paroled and regains sole custody of her.

“Goodbye, Lucy,” I whisper, standing on the porch in New York. “Say hello to Aurora for me.”

And one day when I’m older, I’ll climb into bed, close my eyes, and I’ll see her again.
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:03 PM   #2
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So sad!!! But an amazing ending! Good job!
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:30 PM   #3
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What a great ending! I've been following this since the first Adam/Lucy story (that was yours right?) sad it's all over now.
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:48 PM   #4
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that is sad.
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Old 02-10-2010, 06:45 PM   #5
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What a beautiful way to break my heart. Your writing is, as always, amazing.
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