Shelagh felt her husband slide into their bed after returning from a late call out. She felt him move behind her and wrap his cool body around her warm one.
"Mmmm" she murmured as his arm came to rest across her stomach and pull he closer.
"Sorry love – I didn't mean to wake you." Patrick whispered into her hair.
"It's fine. I needed to tell you I have rescheduled your appointments for tomorrow morning." Shelagh hoped he was tired enough that he wouldn't ask any questions until morning. She sighed when she felt him move his head back from her.
Shelagh rolled over to face him. "I have an appointment with Ted Horringer and I would like you to accompany me."
"Ted? Why do you have an appointment with Ted?" The heartbreak of the last time they had seen Ted washed over him. He loved Angela more than anything but occasionally he did wonder what a child who was a mixture of all of his and Shelagh's best parts might be like.
"I don't want you to worry Patrick dear," Shelagh started quietly, knowing those words would immediately start him worrying which was why she had left it to the last possible minute to tell him. "I can feel a mass in my stomach. It's only small, but there is something there, it could just be a hardening of the scar tissue but ….. well, I don't want to take any chances."
Patrick lay still, absorbing what she had just said. She had an abdominal mass. His medical mind automatically went to the worst case scenarios. He moved away from her completely and began to feel around her stomach, performing his own examination of her.
Shelagh knew he needed to do this and rolled onto her back and allowed him to lift her nightgown. She felt him pressing around and knew immediately when he felt what she had felt two weeks ago. His hands stilled and pressed again hoping he had imagined it the first time. He thought of all the reasons she could have an abdominal mass and only one of them was good, unfortunately it was the one reason they could most assuredly rule out.
"Patrick, don't borrow trouble. Let's see what Mr Horringer says tomorrow." Shelagh said calmly but knowing neither of them would be sleeping again tonight.
Patrick lay back down and pulled her back into his arms. "I can't lose you." He whispered his greatest fear into her hair.
She so desperately wanted to say 'you won't' but they both would have known it was an empty platitude so instead she just held him tighter and said "I know".
Timothy watched as his mother made breakfast and fed Angela – things he observed her do every day but today there was something a bit off. It wasn't just the fact that she was dressed in her regular clothes instead of her uniform – there was a tenseness to her that was unnerving him. The most peculiar thing was his father. For a start he was still at home and not rushing off to the surgery. Then there was the fact that he was playing with the food mum had put in front of him rather than eating it.
"Alright you two what's going on?" Timothy finally asked having had enough of the morning weirdness.
Both parents turned to look at him and then look at each other. They seemed to do that silent conversation thing they often did.
"Mum has an appointment this morning and I'm going with her." Timothy looked at his father as he spoke and knew there was more than he was being told.
"What kind of appointment?" Timothy asked worriedly.
Shelagh stopped feeding Angela who was beginning to react to the tense feeling in the room and started refusing the food she was being offered and demanded to be released from her high chair. Shelagh quickly wiped her face and placed her in her play pen and came to sit at the table with her boys. She grasped Timothy's hand.
"I have an appointment with a doctor in Harley St".
"Is it the TB? Has it come back?" Tim asked, not even trying to mask how worried he was.
"No dearest." Shelagh answered squeezing his hand. "A few weeks ago I felt something in my stomach and I want to have Mr Horringer look to make sure it is nothing serious."
"A lump in your stomach sounds serious." Timothy whispered, unknowingly echoing his parents own thoughts.
"And there is a good chance it may not be as well Tim" his father said trying to be optimistic for his wife and sons sake but knowing his tone would do nothing towards achieving that goal.
"The important things to remember," Shelagh addressed both the men in her life, "is that I am having it checked as soon as I found it and I have no other symptoms of anything untoward – in fact I can honestly say I have never felt healthier. Let's not worry until we actually know if there is something to worry about?"
Timothy and Patrick were both quiet until Timothy broke the silence and squeezed his mother's hand.
"You're right mum. No point in worrying if there is nothing to worry about and you do look quite pretty at the moment – for a mum anyway." Timothy grinned at her.
"Thank you Timothy…..I think." She smiled at him and it almost reached her eyes. "Right! Timothy you need to leave or you will miss your bus and I need to get Angela ready for Mrs Penney".
Timothy stood and wrapped her in a hug and she was once again struck by how grown up he was becoming – physically he was taller than her now but he had taken the news very maturely and was keeping a calm head.
"You'll be fine mum. God has already taken one mother from me – he wouldn't be cruel enough to take another." He whispered to her as he left.