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Taylor's Time


That's right, she's back!

And she's...

Got another new story.

Zeus take it, I can't keep track of all the stories she has going.

Can you?

Okay, time to dive in. I'm sure it'll be heart-tugging!


--Kendra


Strength


Seth's phone was ringing again. It'd been ringing all morning, it seemed. But he just kept looking at the screen and swiping to end the call. 


“Scammers?” I asked. 


He popped a grape into his mouth. He chewed it longer than necessary, as if he was intentionally prolonging his answer. He swallowed hard, like it took an effort to do so. His mouth was still half-full when he finally spoke. 


“Nah, my brother. You know how he is.”


The baby started crying, waking up. As I went to stand, Seth placed his hand onto my wrist, stopping me. 


‘I'll get her,” he said. 


He stood from his chair kissrd my hair, and walked down the hall, leaving his phone behind. I stared at the screen for a long beat. It could've been just his brother, an excited uncle wanting to know all about his new niece.


But if it was, why would Seth continue to hang up?


I stared at the phone again. I knew this was wrong. I knew I could trust Seth, my strong and honest Seth. But a part I was trying to ignore still pricked with anxiety. The phone rang again, vibrating against the table. Finally, I looked closer at the screen. I knew the number. It was his doctor, and Seth had his colonoscopy nearly two weeks ago. 


Had they found something? 


I heard Seth's heavy footsteps coming down the hall and straightened in my seat. He was carrying the baby. 


“Fussy little one, isn't she?” I asked. 


She pulled at his hair and he laughed, setting her into her highchair. He shot me a look.  


“She's just like her mother” 


I glared at him in mock irritation. He sat down and leaned close to our daughter. 


“Your mama is very very angry with me.” 


She giggled at him. He pressed his nose to her silky soft skin, as sweet as melted caramel, and drank her new-baby smell. Nothing in the world smelled as sweet as new babies. He smiled and kissed her. I kept my voice light, my tone nonchalant. 


“You missed a call while you were checking on her.”


He seemed to freeze in place, a deer in headlights. 


“Call from who?” 


I inhaled slowly through my nostrils. I smelled baby powder and his cologne, evidence of the things I held closest in this world. 


“From your doctor.” 


He swallowed. His eyes flitted downward, then up again. I spoke before he could open his mouth. 


“Is that who keeps calling you? Is that who you've been ignoring?”


Nothing. He stayed quiet for an agonizingly long moment.


“They found something, and it…” 

He was struggling with himself. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and started again. 


“They found a polyp that could be cancerous, or that could become cancerous at some point.” 


Everything inside me felt still and chaotic in the same moment. I was torn into shreds, crushed into nothing, and swallowed by darkness all at once. It took almost minute before I could talk again. When I did, I made my voice hard.


“God, Seth! Why? Why would you ignore something so important?” I scooted my chair back forcefully and stood up. Seth reached for my hand, and I snatched it away. I turned to face him, my blood simmering. “Seth, this could kill you!” I snapped. “Do you understand that?” 


His eyes were downcast again. Our daughter began to fuss in her chair. Seth peered up at me. 


“I didn't tell you, because I didn't wa-”


“Because you didn't want to worry me, huh? Is that it, Seth? Really?


He sighed, frustrated. Unlike me, he kept his voice soft. “Please, just let me talk. Please.” 


His voice held something akin to a scared little child. He was afraid to talk to me. The baby was crying now, softly as babies do, and I lifted her out of the highchair, rocking her in my arms. She settled. Now was not the time to be angry. Seth continued on, his words slow. 


“I-... I act like I'm stronger than I am.” 


I stared at him, the rhythmic action of rocking the baby calming my nervs. 


“I act that way, because I don't wanna scare you. I don't want to worry you or be the reason for your tears or…”  He looked smaller now, with his arms crossed over his chest, his fingers gripping his biceps, his eyes downcast again. His next words came with a sigh that seemed to crush the breath out of him. ”But I get scared too.”


In a blast of insight I knew. He wasn't afraid of hurting me, not really. He wasn't afraid of the treatment. He wasn't even afraid of the cancer. He was afraid of the news, of the threat that it posed, of the threat the unknown posed - death. He was afraid of leaving us. 


I sat in the chair closest to him and rested my hand on his knee. He turned his face away from me, his breathing broken, his nose runny. 


“Seth, sweetheart.” I gave his knee a gentle squeeze. “Look at me.” 


He did. Tears streamed down his cheeks like trails of silent pain. He inhaled shakily. 


“I'm scared, Leah. I'm really scared.” His voice shook. Twin trails of mucus trailed from his nose. He rested his fist over his mouth, muffling his pain and trying to control it. 


“Oh, baby,” I soothed, wiping away a tear. “You won't go through this alone. You have me. You have my family and your family.” 


I looked at the baby, then back at him. 


“And you have us. Okay? You have us. You have me and you always will. I'll see you through every treatment, every appointment, every procedure, whatever it takes. You don't have to feel like you need to fight this battle alone. I have enough strength for both of us.” 


Seth's eyes welled up. Tears trapped themselves in the corners. He fell into my free arm, out of the chair and onto the floor. I followed him, the baby held tight, and slumped onto my knees in front of him. 




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