Were there always so many bras and little tops in department stores? I can’t say I’d ever noticed before. Sports bras, padded bras, and skimpy cleavage-flashing numbers with glittery fabric. A few weeks ago, I might have walked up to them and fondled the material and checked the price tag before thinking better of it and walking away. But they’re on every fucking rail as I wander aimlessly through the shops, trying to think what last bits we need for our holiday. Since I’m soon going to be having my left tit hacked off, there’s not a lot of point in buying something to flaunt what I’ve got, when fairly soon I won’t have it anyway.
Then, I see t-shirts my husband might have worn. Shopping trips were always fairly simple for him and me, on the rare occasions we did them. “Do I like this?” he’d ask, and then shrug, and completely trust my judgement when I said yes or no. He couldn’t be arsed arguing, but he always looked pretty good to me (as long as, like most husbands, he didn’t attempt to dress himself from head to toe too often.)
I want him to hold my hand as we browse the clothes rails in the store. To cry with me in front of all the bras, and to tell me he doesn’t care how much of me they take away – that he loves me for me, not for my great pair of tits (although he might still admit to them being a bonus.) I want him to tell me that it’ll all be OK, and to say he wasn’t really keen on those lacy bras anyway. I want him to ask me if I really need another jolly fucking scarf because the peg in the bedroom is full of them, and to roll his eyes and say that the one I’ve picked out is identical to the 93 others I’ve already got. It isn’t, of course. He never did understand scarves. I’d have ignored him and bought it anyway, if he’d been here with me, staring at all the scarves and the dresses and the bras. But he isn’t, because he’s dead.
In some ways, I’ve forgotten to grieve for my husband in the days since my diagnosis, because my head is just too full of breadwinner money worries, boy timetables, dog walking schedules, questions on how the fuck I’m going to break this news to everyone, and visions of prosthetics awkwardly balancing inside a sturdy bra. It’s just the same as it was when my husband was diagnosed the first time around, and we didn’t sleep for weeks, but all I could think about was how much time I’d need to master his recipe for the world’s most epic roast potatoes before he had to leave us. He knew I’d manage it. Not rocket science, he said. (The roast potatoes, that is. None of us were really expecting me to be having to juggle widowhood and more bloody cancer all at the same time just two and a half years later.)
I miss my husband every second of every day, but I’m sure he won’t want me to join him yet, wherever he is. He knows I’ve got two important jobs to do, and I promised I wouldn’t let him down. Those important jobs are currently beating the living crap out of each other in the sitting room over something to do with the Xbox. Will those little boys suddenly treasure me, and each other, or will they fall apart when they hear the news? Will their anger eat away at them, or at their friendships, because they can’t safely take it out on the only person left who understands and loves them unconditionally? Will they try to look after me and help us all to work through this as a family, or will they resent yet more effing cancer and a mum at half measure? Will that important job of mine become impossible because cancer has killed their Daddy and knocked seven bells and a C Cup out of their Mummy as well? Only time will tell. But time is precious. At the very least, whatever happens, we still have plenty of that.
Love Fanny x