This was a hard chapter to write as some others will be. The conversations are real. The emotions are real. Remembering them...I thought it important to tell others having issues like this. You don't have to be alone.
Another day at sea.We did the stops at Sir Samuels for our coffees and generally just took it easy.I did have a second appointment with the Canyon Ranch Spa for my tanning.Tony waited patiently as I was taken care of.When I was done, he stood grinning.
“Are there any tan lines now?”
“You’ll have to see for yourself later.”I grinned as I passed him.
He chuckled.“I plan to see that.”
Tonight, wasn’t a formal night, but we dressed casual for dinner.Tony was hungry, so we arrived first at our table as a couple we did not know was sitting in our chairs.I’d never seen them before.
“Are you assigned to the VIP table?”Tony asked, knowing they weren’t.At that time, the man in charge of seating came by.
The man who was sitting where we sat looked confused.“There are no assigned seats.”
The man in charge stopped.“Normally they dine in Queen’s Grill.They chose the dining room.There is open seating on the above level.”He pointed to the dining on the second floor.“There is open seating up there, but these seats were assigned to Mr. McKenzie and Mr. Delveccio.You need to go up there.”The man and woman nodded and left.The man smiled.“The Queen’s Grill is normally where people in your stateroom dine.”
Tony nodded.“We will.The dining here is a little more open.There are people to talk to.The Queen’s Grill is intimate when we want to be alone, but we like people, so this is better.”
I chuckled.“For now.”
The man nodded.“Some people prefer being alone, but visiting with other passengers is most definitely happening here.”He grinned.“Have you had a good cruise so far?”
“More than I dreamed of.”Tony nodded with a grin.His face fell a little.I looked where he was looking and saw the man and woman that objected that we sat at the VIP table that first night.
The man in charge of seating looked where we were looking.“The Grisons.From Oklahoma.”He smiled.“Lottery winners.”He looked at Tony.“They haven’t given you problems, have they?”
Tony shook his head to the man’s question as Deon and Rene came to the table.“No.” He smiled at Deon and Rene then Ben and Elouise came.“Now, the reason we sit here.”He sat chuckling.“The Grisons won a lottery.That explains a lot.”
I laughed.“Don’t be an elitist.”
“Well, they are so…” Tony began.
Tony nodded.“Yes!It’s a big world.They’re out in it, but want the same things they have back home.”
Ben grinned as he sat down and we both stood as Deon and Elouise sat.“Hello, Gentlemen.”Ben said.“How has your voyage been so far?”
Tony nodded.“Great!And yours?”
Elouise took her husband’s hand.“It’s been very…rewarding.”She said smiling letting us know the rewards were more personal as she looked at her husband and put her napkin in her lap.“Tomorrow is Tauranga.What are you doing?”
I looked at Tony.“We’ve been doing natural stuff this week.We’re planning to see Mount Maunganui.There are some great nature trails there.There are some great Maori exhibits at the museum and a there is the Tauranga Art Gallery.We plan to see as much as we can.”
Tony smiled.“This has been more…Mitch’s sort of thing.”
“We’ll be in Auckland after that.”I said.“That’s a city.The only thing Tony has assurance about is coming back to this ship and back to civilization.”
There was dancing again that night.
The days passed quickly and then the Bay of Islands. Then two days of just cruising.We were having a great time, but every now and then I could see Tony’s face and knew what was playing on his mind.I didn’t know what he was thinking, but I knew what he was thinking about.I woke up in the middle of the night alone one night.The stateroom was dark, but there was enough light to vaguely search and see Tony was gone.Getting up, I slipped a robe on and went downstairs.The rest of the stateroom was dark and empty, but looking out on the balcony I saw Tony’s dark silhouette against the lights of stars and moonlight.He was just standing there in the dark night looking out over the water as the light shone over its surface.I felt a lump form in my throat, but went out and stood next to him.
“Is this a time you want to be alone?”I asked him quietly.
Tony didn’t reply verbally, but shook his head.
I reached over and took his hand.Looking out over the moonlit water, it was so peaceful.
It was a few minutes later when Tony spoke very quietly.“I couldn’t sleep.”He sighed.“It’s so lovely here…now.”
I nodded and looked at him.“I like it, too, but this isn’t what’s going through your mind.”
“It’s nothing.”Tony said dismissing the question.
“Tony.”I said in a way telling him I knew better.“At the very beginning, we promised to tell each other the truth and what was on our minds.There is something on your mind.I know what it’s about, but what are you thinking? What are you feeling?”
It took a few seconds before he answered.“I’m scared.”Tony confessed.“I’m sick.”He smiled bitterly.“I know we haven’t be officially diagnosed, but I feel…” he thought as he tapped his own chest.“…I don’t feel right.”He turned to me.“Even Kathy knew…it runs in the family.For us, it was never a question if we will get cancer, but when.Even if this is treatable this time, I’ll eventually get it.”Now he looked scared.“I’m going to die.”
His statement hit me in my heart.“Maybe.”
Tony shook his head.“It’s going to happen.I know it.We pretend it isn’t happening right now.Most of the time I buy into it, but we both know what’s happening.”
I swallowed as the lump was forming in my throat and I had to get it down to talk.“What can we do, but fight this?”
“I don’t know if I can!”Tony said a little louder than he intended.“I hate this whole thing!”Even in the dim light I saw a tear form.“I don’t want to die, but what’s even worse is what this is doing to us.To you!”He waved at me.
“I won’t leave you.I can’t!You’re not alone.”
Tony moaned and turned away.“I know!That isn’t fair!”He stated.“All these years I tried to impress you, but you didn’t need to be impressed!I know you love me.I never doubted it from day three!”
His comment shocked me as he was using humor even in this distressing situation.“Day three?”
Tony grinned a little.“Well, there was the infatuation the first day, interest day two, but day three…yes.I knew I loved you and I was pretty sure you felt the same.”
I chuckled as I ran a hand over his back.“Yes, that’s pretty much the way it happened.”I put my arms around him.“I can’t know what you feel if you don’t tell me, but I see it in your face.”
Tony closed his eyes against his thoughts.“It’s not fair!!”He said in agony.
Now I was crying.He was in so much pain inside.“It’s most certainly not fair.”
“I’m angry!At this horrible disease and I’m even mad at God!”
Being the son of a preacher sometimes paid off occasionally.“You think He doesn’t know that?Tell Him that!Tell Him how you feel.”
Tony looked at me a little shocked.“What?”
I kissed him quickly and patted him on his bare chest.“That’s the problem with you Catholics, you’re so used to having someone else intercede for you; be it Saints and even the Virgin Mary.Those of us raised Baptist don’t have that issue.I see God as someone I can talk to.Just like I’m talking to you right now.”I smiled.“I speak to Him as a friend.I talk to Him.”I chuckled as his eyes held doubt.“You can.In fact, you should.The way I was taught, He understands you.He will understand what you’re going through and even when you hurt so badly and can’t put words to your feelings He understands the utterances of pain that have no words.If you’re mad, tell Him.If you hurt, tell Him.Whatever you feel, tell Him!”
I watched as what I said was getting through.He stood there a few more seconds and then turned to the ocean beyond and just shouted a loud cry of such pain and agony.“What did I do?This is tearing me apart!”He shouted.“Help me!”He said and then put his face in his hands and began to cry.“I don’t want to die.”He said in a pitiful voice.
I was crying even more.What could I do, but be here with him?I put my arms tighter around him and pulled his closer as he grabbed hold of me.“You’re not alone, Tony.I will be with you this whole way.So, will God.You’re not alone.”
It was a few more minutes before Tony stopped crying and looked down at me as he stood.“I dearly love you, Mitch.”
I smiled as I kissed him.“I know.I dearly love you, Tony.You are the most amazing human being.No human means more to me, than you do.”