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HALF MOON, FULL HEART
Their first time alone, really alone.—
“And they danced. Bathed in the soft glow of a half moon, they
danced. David Joe held Jessie Marie as close as he knew how—as
close as he dared, and they danced. He held her so close he felt their
hearts beating in unison like a lovers’ duet, and they danced. They
danced to every song that followed; until the battery in the small
transistor radio grew weak, and the melodic sounds of The Platters
faded. And even after the radio fell silent, and the night grew old,
Chapter Three Excerpt
I Married a Whole Wife
Cancer? For Rachel, hearing her doctor's diagnosis of breast cancer was an out-of-body experience, what happened with her husband was worse. - http://genecartwright.com/Bookstore/hm ; -
At first, she decided not to tell David, at least not right away. Then, she told him. After all, he was her husband. He loved her. He would support and encourage her. Rachel waited until they were together at the Palisades estate. She would never forget the day or the moment. The event seared itself forever into her consciousness.
She had searched for the right moment; the right setting; the right expression on his face; the right words to use; the right distance to position herself, relative to him. Should she stand or sit? Would it be best to hold his hand or embrace him as she gave him the news?
Then it hit her. She was all-consumed with constant worry regarding David’s possible reaction. Her every thought was of David. Why? Here she was facing one of the most traumatic moments in her life, and she was more concerned for her husband.
It was June 3rd, exactly three months before her birthday. Rachel and David had just returned from a morning of tennis. They had dinner plans at Spago’s with another couple. Rachel would have settled for grilled salmon on the patio, out by thepool, watching a fiery Pacific sunset.
The look. Rachel would never forget the look on David’s face. She sought to cushion the news by making certain she was absent a somber face or voice. She wore loose-fitting, ankle-length loungewear that concealed her curves.
Rachel began by making small talk—something about her staying in shape, and his need to follow up on his promise tobegin regular prostate exams. “PSA and digital,” she said.
David assured her he would, while insisting he wasn’t really concerned; he wasn’t old enough to worry. Rachel expressed doubt he would act, and threatened to make the appointments for him if he did not. He again insisted, in a convincing voice this time. David was always convincing. He had that way about him. He had style and panache. And he knew it. He traded on it. And why not? It had always worked.
Then she told him. Rachel moved closer to David, kissed him softly, and she told him. Fighting to steady her voice, determined to hold his gaze with dry eyes, she told him. Rachel told David of her discovery of the lump; the subsequent visit; the resulting diagnosis. She battled to keep smiling,struggled to conceal the emotion in her voice and on her face.
As the words fell on his ears, David reacted with understandable shock and disbelief. Then, the look. David’s unretouched, unairbrushed expression was now branded into Rachel’s mind forever. No ‘cut’ or ‘take two,’ this time.
Deep frowns etched his brow. His lips parted. For the longest time, he said nothing. Not a word. It was as if he were waiting for her to confess to making a joke offeredin the worst taste possible.
It did not come.David had Rachel repeat herself. She did. He held his ground,stared with unblinking eyes. Then came a barrage of questions.They came, even as she stood waiting. Rachel was hoping her husband would move quickly to her. She needed him to capture her in a caring and reassuring embrace. She waited for him to assure her everything would be alright.
There was nothing. No embrace. No reassurance.Instead, David questioned her; interrogated her. At first, about details of the diagnosis. Then questions about what she may have done to bring on the disease. He sounded accusatory. What care had she taken to keep herself healthy? Was she sure? What treatment could she choose that would preserve her breast or breasts? Was it just one breast or both?
That seemed David’s major concern: preserving Rachel’s appearance. “They can do a lumpectomy, right?” He asked. Rachel made no attempt to answer, especially after the first questions regarding the diagnosis.
So while David stood his ground, Rachel moved to within inches of him. She could feel his warm breath on her face, yet he kept his arms at his side, even as his gaze fell to her breasts.
It was as if David were wondering which was the offending mammary gland. Which of these two, beautifully sculpted, stillfirm, pink-nippled delights he had come to know and love, had betrayed him?
Rachel could see the unspoken question form on his petrifiedlips. Her heart raced. Her mind absorbed and weighed the hurtful reality of the moment. And she knew she had experienced an ultimate event in her marriage, and her life. All pretense regarding David’s self-centeredness had been stripped away.
Even then, Rachel could have forgiven delay of the reaction she had hoped for. Had she expected too much, too soon? Was it simply that David had not had sufficient time to digest thestunning news?
Rachel thought not. She stared deeply into his eyes, then turned and started from the room. As she walked away, she prayed. She prayed he would say the words that would erase therecord forever, and whisk them both back—back to the precisemoment she first revealed her briefly held secret.
In the days and weeks that followed, things only grew worse. David withdrew. He was no longer his effusive, fun-loving, gregarious self. He would embrace her only briefly, and not nearly as often.
Their fiery sex-life all but disappeared. David, who had always been eager to help her undress before bed, now hardly looked at her when Rachel disrobed. Gone were the showers together; the playful fondling; the “anytime, anyplace,” unscripted romantic episodes.
Worse, David refused to join Rachel in the ‘husband-wife’ counseling sessions sponsored by her physician and Huntington Hospital. She felt her depression deepen. Her dilemma was not helped by rejections of her book manuscript her agent delivered almost daily.
Finally, she had endured enough. In a bold confrontation Rachel planned and executed flawlessly, she forced the issue David had evaded so masterfully.
It was a Sunday afternoon, following a morning of silentbreakfast, and newspapers being held up to obscure her probingeyes. Rachel waited until David was firmly nestled in his favorite chair watching a Lakers vs. Trailblazers preseason basketball game. She entered the room, completely nude, and planted herself between David and his big screen TV.
He nearly popped a vein. He looked away, then back, frowned, but said nothing.That was perhaps the deepest cut. Rachel moved closer, to within inches of where David sat. So close, he could have touched her with his tongue, had he wanted. And he would have, before.
“So tell me, David. In which part of my anatomy is your love for me embodied? Here?” Rachel pointed and continued, graphically. “My pussy? My tits? This one or this one? Or both? Tell me!” She demanded, cupping a hand underneath each breast.
David responded angrily, and with words that belied all the declarations of love he had ever uttered.
“Do we have to do this just now?”
“We don’t have to do this, ever,” said Rachel.
“Look, it’s not just wives or women who suffer when something like this happens. I married a whole woman. I deserve a whole woman.”
Rachel was stunned by David’s words. She felt herself seething. She struggled to remain silent and simply let David have his say, but could not.
“Whole woman? Whole woman?”
Rachel felt her heart banging against her chest wall. She felt an unfamiliar rage surge within her.
“So I’m...I’m only whole because I have breasts? Is that what you’re saying? Is it? Damn you, David! Is that all I mean to you? You’d feel differently, if it were you...you with testicular cancer and one or both of your balls had to go.”
“C’mon, that’s different.”
“How? How is that different? ”
“It...it just is.”
“Would you be a whole man?”
“It’s not the same.”
“Look, Rachel, I don’t mean to sound cruel. I sincerely hope I’m not coming off that way. I have tried. I’ve tried, but I can not do this. I don’t mean to be insensitive or cold, but I have to behonest. This affects the way I feel about you, sexually.
I can’t lie about that. I don’t want to feel that way, but I do. Maybe that will change, in time. I know there are reconstruction options later, but you could at least consider a less invasive procedure than a mastectomy. You should consider my feelings as well.”
That was it. That was the most David had said, since first learning of the diagnosis. Rachel said nothing. There was nothing left to say. She had already decided her body was her body. And while she would mourn the loss of her right breast, she valued her life even more.
Dr. Lombard had presented the choices and the odds, as precisely as he could. He answered every question put to him. The choice was hers. Rachel had chosen a mastectomy. It was the fallout of that decision that exposed the true nature of her nearly ten year relationship with David. She was crushed, rendered speechless. It was as if her very breath, her life force was suddenly drained from her.
Rachel could only stare at her husband through blurred eyes. She was unable to comprehend the fact he was saying these things to her, and in such a cold, thoughtless manner. The one positive thing was, David’s carefully constructed facade was now shattered. He was now more naked than she.