Jill dialed the phone number of the prestigious high school about twenty miles from their home where her nephew, John Patterson attended, school as a sophomore. She figured if anybody could be the backbone of their family in a time of need, John would be the person to call. The day before, Randy, who was very close to his cousin, had been taken for some additional blood tests at a doctor's appointment after one of the doctors discovered a lump on his neck. It could be one of three things: a goiter, which would mean Randy would have to receive no treatment; hypothyroidism, which meant that he would have to take a pill everyday for the rest of his life; or it could be malignant, which was Jill's worse possible nightmare.
The principal of John's school answered the phone. Jill explained who she was, what had happened to one of the school's cousins, and asked if she could pull John out of school for the day so he could be with his family. The principal said of course and Jill thanked him.
An hour later, somebody knocked on the door and Jill ran up to it and answered it. John stood there at the door, a look of confusion on his face.
"Oh John! I'm so glad you're here!" Jill exclaimed, pulling John into a hug.
"Aunt Jill, what happened?" John asked. "Principal Jones said something about Randy being sick or something."
Jill led John inside the house. John sat down at the kitchen counter while Jill prepared some tea. Once she was done making tea, she sat down with John and explained what had happened the day before. As she finished explaining, she broke down into tears and John hugged her.
"I'm so sorry, John," Jill said through sobs. "This is just my worst nightmare! I can't believe that my baby might have cancer!"
"It's okay, Jill. Look, I know it's hard, but we're gonna get through this together. You just have to be strong, for Randy's sake."
Hours later, Brad came home alone. John was sitting at the counter, reading the latest edition of his school's newspaper which he wrote for. Jill looked around after Brad.
"Where's Randy?" she asked.
"I don't know. He was supposed to meet me after school but he never showed up," Brad replied, before running upstairs, not noticing that John was sitting at the counter. John put down his newspaper just as Tim entered from the garage.
"Hey, John, what are you doing here?" he asked, hanging up his jacket.
"Jill told me about the doctor's yesterday and I came here at once. She pulled me out of school and I drove myself here to be with you guys."
"Tim, Randy never came home," Jill said urgently.
"Oh boy. Look, you call around and I'll go out looking for him. I think I know where he is, so don't worry please? John, can you stay here with your aunt?"
"Of course, I'll be here."
Tim grabbed his jacket and left. Jill then pulled out an address book and was flipping through it when the phone rang.
"Hello?" Jill answered. "Oh, Al….what? We don't have a milkman. I have no idea what you're talking about! Look, I have to make some phone calls, I'm gonna have to let you go." Jill hung up the phone and began calling Randy's friends.
About forty-five minutes later, Tim returned home with Randy. While Tim hooked his jacket back up, Jill ran up to him and hugged him.
"Oh sweetie…where were you?" she asked, nearly on the verge of tears again.
Randy seemed unable to answer so Tim spoke. "He was at the arcade. He found out about the possibility of the lump being malignant and was worried about what it meant."
"I'm sorry mom, I was just so angry that you didn't tell me that I might have cancer," Randy said. "I thought that was the only way I could get back at you."
At that, Jill burst into tears. "I'm so sorry that we didn't tell you, Randy. We just didn't want you to worry. But look, John's here and he's going to spend the weekend here with us."
"Hey buddy," John said, smiling. Randy walked over to his cousin and they fell into a hug. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm doing okay. Well alright, I'm a complete wreck, but I'm okay for the most part."
Tim and Jill left the kitchen and headed upstairs to let John talk to Randy. Together, the cousins sat down on the couch and talked.
"You know, it was only yesterday everything was fine and then today I find out I might have cancer!" Randy exclaimed, before bursting into tears. John put his arm around Randy's shoulder and spoke to him.
"Randy, you don't have cancer," he said soothingly. "I know you don't. And even if you did, you could beat it. You're a Taylor, Randy, and the Taylor's can beat anything, just look at your dad." Randy laughed. "Look, I'm gonna help you get through this alright? That's why your mom pulled me out of school today so I could help you and the rest of the family get through this. I'm going to be here for you. I'll always be there for you Randy, you understand?"
Randy nodded. "Yeah, I know you will. I'm so glad that you came here!"
"I know. You'll get through this, I know you will. Now, the doctor will call in a few hours and will tell us what you have. How about we kill some time with your parents and play a game or something in the basement?"
For the next two hours, John played a game of Scrabble with Tim, Jill, and Randy on Randy's bed. As the time for the doctor to call drew nearer, Randy began getting impatient.
"Man it's 5:30 when are they gonna call?" he asked.
"Honey, I'm sure they'll call in any minute," Jill said, sounding as though she were trying to keep her cool. "Come on, just play."
They continued their game for a few more turns when the phone rang. Jill answered it, expecting the doctor.
"Hello?" she answered. "Oh, Al. Look, Tim and I are fine. We don't have a milkman. Please don't call this number again. Bye." She hung up the phone. "What is wrong with him? And where is he getting this idea of a milkman?"
"No idea, honey," Tim replied before the phone rang again. Jill picked up the phone again, assuming it was Al calling again.
"Al…" she said.
"Tell him he's fired." Tim suggested.
"Please don't call…oh, doctor, hello," Jill's tone suddenly sounded serious. "Uh huh. It's not? Oh, thank God! There's no cancer! There's no cancer!" she exclaimed running up to the guys and hugging all three of them. "Uh huh. Oh we will. We will. Yeah, thanks for calling. Okay, bye-bye." The four of them hugged again. "Well, you have hypothyroidism which is why you have been so tired lately."
"Is that the goiter or the pill?" Tim asked.
"The pill," Jill replied. They fell into another hug. Randy announced that he was starving and he and Tim made their way upstairs to the kitchen so they could order a pizza. Once they reached the door, they asked if John and Jill were coming.
"We'll be right up," John answered. Jill had sat down on Randy's bed and John sat down next to her.
"Are you okay Jill?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Jill replied, choking on tears of happiness. "I'm just so relieved. And I'm just so happy that you came down to be with us. Thank you so much, John."
John hugged her as he spoke. "It's no problem Jill. I'm here for all of you guys. We're family and it's my job to be there for my family. I will always be there for you all, no matter what."