Katherine knows that she's dying way befote she's diagnosed. She feels it. Feels the way her body is fighting a losing battle against an invisible enemy. It sounds stupid even to her own ears, so she doesn't talk to Burt about it. She prays. She prays and gets secret doctor appointments and hugs her beautiful, beautiful child every night before tucking him in.

Her child, her baby boy.

Her baby boy. Oh, God, her baby boy. Her baby boy with his little hands and his little legs, and his perfect eyes. His baby boy who sings to her in a sweet stuttering voice; her baby boy, who is made of all things that have ever been good in her life.

Her son, that is going to grow up without a mother.

That's the thought that breaks her down on the day of her first appointment. That's the single most frightening thing in all of this, because Burt will be alone with a kid, and he's gonna hurt, and he's gonna have it tough, but he is a grown up man. He can deal (oh god, please, you have to deal.), but she's going to be gone, and Kurt is going to grow up without a mother in a world that is too big, too hungry, too hateful.

She hears his little voice singing her favorite Judy Garland songs, and sees him sneering at his boyish toys, and she knows that he's going to need her more than most kids'd need their mothers. God, aren't you supposed to be fair, caring? Loving? Compassionate?

Then don't do this, don't pry me away from him.

She cries. She's known that there's something wrong with her for about amonth and a half, but this is the first time she cries. She pulls the car over in the middle of the road to Westerville (she won't risk going to the Memorial yet; just, just in case she's mistaken...), braces her face with both arms againts the steering wheel and cries, with choked sobs, and painful hiccups, and until her eyes are too swollen, and her cheeks are creased from her sleeves, and her head feels like its been used as a gavel.

She doesn't want to die, nobody is ever really ready to die, but she can try to stand it. She is not, however, ever going to be okay with having to part ways with the best thing life has ever seen fit to give her. She's not ready, she's probably never going to be ready.

But there's not ever, there's no time. And Kurt is waiting for her at home, probably watching Disney movies with his babysitter Rebecca, so she's got to be strong and do this, face this like an adult. She has to do this, then go back home, and sing lullabies one more time.

Whatever this is, she promises, she is going to fight it for as long as she can.

A week made of two appointments, a few tests, and a sympathetic middle aged woman in white gear later, she finds out what exactly is happening to her.

Cancer.

Burt finds out a day after. She's mostly done all her crying by then, so she holds him against her chest and hums softly when he starts freaking out; bawling, screaming; letting out anger, frustration, early mourning, breaking down in the warm circle of her trembling arms.

(it can't be, how can it be? why? why you? why us?)

They spend hours like that. Embraced and shattered, a mirror that's been thrown with a certain vengeful force. They don't whisper meaningless words, they don't exchange faith or hope in the form of pleadings to a lonely man in the skies (Katherine has already prayed. Day in and day out, and it all amounted to nothing. She wants to believe, refuses to lose her credence, but it's hard); they are still, accompanied by the dull streetlights that come from the outsides, by the noises of life everywhere but in the dark cage that is their room right now.

This uneventful petite wife, her trucker resembling uneventful man. The little family built upon years of dreamy sighs the size of a dream life.

Sometimes life will take something away from you that can't ever be replaced. That's what the nice woman that sits next to her in the waiting room on her first visit to the Memorial says. She's old, looks exhausted in that way that old people always do, her hands tremble a little, but her eyes are kind.

"Sometimes it will taks something so big away, and you are never the same afterwards."She looks like she's been through more hardships than it's really fair (what is fair, anyway? Because that's one more thing she doesn't know anymore) "Sometimes you look upwards and cry, and think: God, why do you punish me like this? Why do you abandon me on my time of need?"

Her voice is soft, like feather, and although Katherine Hummel doesn't feel inclined to hear to anyone's ramblings about God, there is something that makes her listen, a quiet quality to this woman's monologue that fills the places that've been empty inside of her ever since the word cancer broke her down.

"But, you know what?"One of the woman's hands wraps tenderly around hers. "We can't let that turn us bitter. We have to love, to live for what little time we are granted on this green Earth and make it worthy for us and those whom we love without restraints, and die with no regrets, so we can leave this beautiful place with an unmarred heart."

She doesn't cry, or attempt to answer to all that. But she does hold her hand for a while. Because words can't do justice to the emotions she can see on those eyes, to the warmth of her tired tone.

"Oh, her?" One of the nurses says, later, when she asks about the woman. "Mrs. Harrison. She lost her daughter to leukemia a week or so ago, bless her heart. She comes sometimes to talk to patients and we don't have the heart to make her leave."

She nods, distractedly. The words sometimes life will take something away from you that can't ever be replaced keep coming back to her.

When she comes home, she sends the sitter on her way and hugs her son for endless minutes, while listening to him as he blithely tells her about this girl Brittany in his class that came to play with him today, about how they had a fabulous tea-party and watched The Beauty and The Beast afterwards.

She takes in everything about his baby's voice. Everything about the softness oh his cheek against hers –she's always knelt down to hug him- . Everything about the way his hair smells –clean, fresh, cared for-, and she holds on a little tighter.

When they've been like this for more than enough time, Kurt's little voice asks her if everything's okay.

She wants to tell him the truth, but she knows that Burt needs to be there for them both when that conversation inevitably takes place, so she lies a white lie and tells him that she's fine.

While they are staging their very own musical and Kurt laughs buoyantly making her heart swell, she thinks about that woman whose daughter passed away, and holding back tears promises to herself that until she can no longer breathe, she will honour life. Because she still can, and because she should, and because she must.

...And because she needs to believe in something right now, and God seems too far away. So she'll believe in this, in this we have to love, we have to live, and in herself, and in her little family..