This is dedicated to my best friend who recently lost her husband. She's a beautiful woman who doesn't deserve the hand she was dealt. I love you, Pam…
Not mine…I'm not Stephenie Meyer. I wish I was. Dang it. But, oh well…
Summary: Isabella Black lost her husband in the cruelest way possible. He wasted away and was ravaged by the evil, silent killer, cancer. Four months after his initial diagnosis, he died in his sleep, leaving Bella with their two young children, John, six and Grace, four. A year after his death, Bella packs her home in Phoenix and drives back to Forks, Washington to be closer to her family. Will she finally find a way to pick up the pieces with the help of her family, friends and a green-eyed cop?
Picking Up the Pieces
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Black. The tests indicate that you have stage IV pancreatic cancer," the doctor said coldly, not offering much hope. He almost seemed bored with what he was saying. Asshole.
"How can that be?" Jacob asked, shocked at the diagnosis. He had been feeling off for a few months but we thought it was just exhaustion. Jacob just started a new job and it was weighing on him. "Cancer?"
"Stage IV pancreatic cancer," the doctor corrected.
"Yes, we get that," I snapped. "What can be done? Are there any treatments? Options, doctor. What are our options?"
"Mrs. Black, Mr. Black, I'm going to be honest with you," the doctor, who obviously didn't care about us. "You have one of the deadliest forms of cancer there is. It's spread from the pancreas to the liver, spleen and bones. You can try to attack it with chemotherapy, but it would just make your remaining time with your family be uncomfortable."
"So, this is a fucking death sentence," Jacob growled. "I'm as good as dead."
"Jake," I whimpered, twining my fingers through his large, warm hands. I drew in a breath, looking at my least favorite person in the world: the asshole that doesn't care that he's taking my husband away from me. "Prognosis. What's the prognosis?"
"Less than six months, if you're lucky."
I couldn't tell you anything else the asshole doctor said after that. Less than six months, if you're lucky. Shit, those words were my worst nightmare. I only had six months left with my husband. He only had six months left with our babies: John and Grace. By the end of the year, I'd be a fucking widow…
Less than six months, if you're lucky.
It's not fair. Why? Why did God do this to us?
Suffice it to say, we weren't lucky. Four months after that initial appointment with Dr. Dickwad, Jake was placed in hospice. My six foot five muscular husband was now a shadow of the man I married. He lost nearly a hundred pounds and was a skeleton. His russet skin was gray and hung limply over his pronounced bones. His once rich, black hair was gone thanks to the chemotherapy that we tried, fruitlessly, to stop the progression of the aggressive form of cancer. My soul mate was dying, with one foot in the grave.
What made things even sadder were the expressions on our children's faces. They were so confused why Daddy didn't live with us anymore and he stayed at the hospital. John, our oldest, kind of understood that Jake was sick but I don't think he realized how sick Jake was. Grace just missed her overgrown playmate and hero of a man who would act like her horsie or be her prince charming.
"Momma, can we visit Daddy today?" John asked, eating his cereal.
I shot a look at Billy, Jacob's dad. He was staying with the kids while I went to check on Jake at the hospice house. I didn't want my kids to see their dad like he was currently: barely breathing, vacant stare, and low moaning from the pain he was in. "Not today, munchkin."
"Okay," John said, shrugging his shoulders. "Can you tell him that I love him?"
"I will, munchkin," I replied, a few tears falling down my cheeks. I turned and leaned on the counter, trying not to lose my emotions. I couldn't. I had to be strong for my babies.
"Can I go play?" John asked, pushing his bowl away.
"Yeah, Johnny," I choked out. "Your clothes for school are on your bed. Poppy will take you to school today, okay?"
"Kay," John chirped, skipping out of the room. Grace was nibbling on her food and was quiet during the whole exchange.
"Grace, are you done, sweetheart?" Billy asked his granddaughter.
"Yeah, Poppy," she said quietly. He lifted her from the highchair and she followed her brother.
Billy walked over to me, putting his hand on my shoulder. "Bella…" he muttered.
"I can't do this, Billy," I stammered. "The doctors say it's only of a matter of days, if not hours. How? Why?"
Billy wrapped his arms around me, holding me to his chest while I crumbled. I crumbled daily, almost. Being held my husband's dad made me feel slightly better because Billy smelled like Jacob: spicy, warm and a hint of tobacco. "Jake hates leaving you, Bella."
"It's not fair," I sniffled against his chest. "We were supposed to grow old together. Not barely middle aged." I pulled back, wiping my cheeks. "Are you sure you can handle taking John to school?"
"Of course, Bella," he said, giving me a sad grin. "I did raise Jake, you know."
"I know," I snorted. "I'll be back for dinner. There's lasagna in the fridge. Just pre-heat the oven to 350 and put it in for an hour."
"Will do," Billy replied, kissing my cheek. Grabbing my purse, I clambered into the large truck that Jake and I just purchased prior to his diagnosis. He needed it for his job as a contractor. Now, it seems pointless to keep it. Not like I'll need it as a teacher. I can't really drive the kids around in it since there's no backseat. If we drove the kids anywhere, we used my Honda Accord.
"Don't walk into the hospice crying, Bella," I admonished. "Be strong. Be strong for Jake. He needs you." I turned over the truck and drove the forty-five minutes to the facility where Jake was staying until he died.