Examination of Jan Hooks continued

"We went to the doctor together the next day. I never could have done it without him there. I remember that the examination consisted of an aspiration of the lump. They let Phil in to hold my hand. I think they recognized him, but they didn't say anything. When the needle went in I stiffened up and Phil cringed. I thought he was going to faint, but he just held my hand tighter. They couldn't get any fluid out of it and she told me that that was not good news. It all happened so fast… the hospital… the operation… the removal of the lump and lymph nodes. Actually, compared to the chemo that was a breeze. Phil practically moved in. He sent his kids off to his sisters, and left Brynn to her own devices. The treatments made me so tired I barely got out of bed, so Phil would feed me there. I threw up a lot and he would clean up after me. He even went out and bought me a real expensive wig when my hair started falling out. I remember that the most. It was flame red and curly and it made me look like Shirley Temple. I remember waking up one morning and he was brushing my hair. It all just fell out all over the pillow in clumps. There was something about that that hurt the most. I cried and cried. But Phil just teased me, doing his best Sinatra he told me he would just put a bag over my head and do his business. In my best Sinead O'Connor, I always had a comeback. Called him an old fart and such. He kept me laughing and I think that that was what healed me more than the medicine. He had a way of wordlessly calming me just by looking at me. He was my rock. He would put his hand out and I would grab on, and it felt like an oak tree. It was the most grounding, calming, serene feeling, that he helped me get through that."

What made him so devoted, do you know?

"Of course I know. We were in love with each other."

Did he ever tell you this? Can you remember?

Suddenly she was in an ambulance fading in and out of consciousness. The siren wailed and needles were being placed in her arms. She had a high fever and was struggling to breathe. "Phil? Phil?" her lips moved but no sound escaped them. He was outside the ambulance doors and they wouldn't let him inside. Told him to meet them at Mercy hospital. Then he "heard" her call out to him. He shoved his way inside and knelt next to her. "Mr. Hartman, you cannot ride with us." one of them said. He turned his head slowly and looked the intern in the eye. Something in that look chilled him to the bone. "The only way you are going to get me to leave is to knock me out and drag me there. And I wouldn't try it if I was you." He turned back to her and mopped her brow with a cool rag. "You are going to be okay honey, just take it easy." he took her hand in his and almost instantly she seemed to breathe easier. It was like he was giving her an infusion of his own strength. Anytime she teetered on one edge or the other, he would take her hand and force her to balance. Now she felt her strength returning and her vision cleared enough to let her see his handsome face, inches from hers. She smiled and he smiled back. "We're almost there," the driver said. "Phil, please don't…" she began, but he finished her sentence, "leave you? Never." They pulled into the parking lot and rushed her inside. The doctor in charge quickly assessed her and ordered some X-rays, stat. When they came back they showed the problem clearly. Her gallbladder was infected and inflamed, and had to come out. They couldn't wait to bring her fever down first; she had to go now. "You have to wait here, sir." the doctor said commandingly to Phil, and he knew he had to listen this time. He bent over her on the gurney and, with a smile that hid his fear, he kissed her lips tenderly. She could feel him move his mouth to her cheek, his breath against her ear. "You know I love you, don't you?" he murmured. She turned her head and faced him with a look of wonder and joy. "Yes, I know you do. I love you too." They pushed the gurney away and he held onto her hand as far as he could until he had to let go. "Please let her be alright." he prayed, knowing with an instinct born of an older and deeper knowledge that she would be fine. After all, he promised to protect her from death at all costs. How he felt he could do that he didn't know. All he did know was that it was indeed within his power.

"And then I began to get well. To really get well again. The doctor said I was in remission. All I know is that that I wanted to do things again. I wanted to share things with Phil, do fun things. We went to Maui and surfed, took a trip to Paris. It was an amazing time. We were so happy. Phil was having a really hard time at home because Brynn was always high. He only went home when he needed something from the house. He knew his kids were safe with his sister, so he felt free to be with me. I loved his kids so much. The spitting image of their dad, especially Birgen. And he was such a proud dad. I just wish that…"

She hesitated here, unwilling to go on.

Oh young one, we know.

She was soothed by their "tone of voice" and continued.

"I just wish that we had had a child together. It would have completed us."

She closed her eyes and let the tears flow.

(They were moved. And in being moved they gave her a gift. They gave her a glimpse of another time)

There is a child born of your love, Jan. Look…

Part 7