There is a certain spot in the Target parking lot that I can never park in again. It was the spot I pulled into when I heard the word cancer come through the speaker on Bryan’s phone. I do not remember pulling the car over or parking, but I do remember practically throwing my phone at Finley so he could play a game while I tried not to hyperventilate in front of my children.
There are certain moments in life that you look back to and it all feels sort of dreamy. I can see myself in that parking lot, but in the version I remember everything is blurred and slow, like the world is coated in a gel and it takes just a little more effort to move freely around. I think I asked Bryan if he was okay. I don’t remember his answer specifically, though it was something along the lines of “I’m not sure what is happening?”
I drove us home. Bryan asked me if I wanted him to drive. I remember thinking, “Someone just told you they are pretty sure you have cancer, so I am definitely driving.” I didn’t know it at the time, but this would become a metaphor for the next few months. In marriage and in parenting, you take turns driving. It was my turn to drive.
When the doctor called us, we were out picking up lunch. When we returned with our food and the news that had flipped our world upside down, we gave Finley his meal and sat him in front of PBS Kids. I have no recollection of what Rory did during this time, which is sadly very symbolic of Rory’s first year of life in general. Born into a pandemic as a second child, things weren’t (aren’t) what I had envisioned for Ro. It is possible we put him in his swing and even more likely he was playing in the sunroom with Guinness. At some point that day, I do recall staring at him and wondering why the father of an 8 month old would get cancer.
I knew we needed help. I knew we were going to need a lot of help. I knew that in order to properly absorb the information we had just been given, someone was going to have to come watch our kids. I told Bryan I was calling his brother, John.
I knew John would answer, but when he did I realized that I had no idea how to say the thing I needed to say out loud. We live in a three flat. Our condo is tucked in the middle, and I had slipped out to the stairwell to make this call. I’m not sure exactly why I did that, but as I stared out the window at the trees lining Bosworth I explained to John that Bryan had had some tests done, that we hadn’t mentioned it because we didn’t want anyone to worry, that the scans showed it was likely cancer and could you come watch our kids please? I cried for the first time when I called John. I suppose it was partially because saying the words out loud felt like jumping into a riptide. Looking back, though, I can also see that it was more than that. It’s a weird thing to call your brother-in-law and tell him his little brother has cancer. It is also a weird thing to hear your brother-in-law on the other end of that call respond in the same calm and attentive way that your husband responds to a crisis. If you ever need someone to jump into action swiftly, efficiently, and unassumingly — you should call one of the Kane brothers.
John and Kaitlyn were over within minutes. It occurred to me at some point later on that they jumped in a Lyft to get to us so fast, which was a sacrifice I will never forget. In the middle of a pandemic, they didn’t think twice about doing the very thing they had avoided doing since March 2020. It was the first of many, many sacrifices and risks they would take for us.