John Dunn Sylvester sat in his window seat staring out at the tarmac and watching the loaders complete their chore. The Flight Attendant came down the aisle offering assistance and instruction. She stopped by J.D.’s seat.
“Sir, can I get you anything?” she asked.
“Huh? Oh, no thanks, I… no, thank you, I’m fine” came his distracted reply. Her smile offered little in the way of comfort or assurance. It would take more than that, he was afraid.
John remembered passing through the terminal thinking how appropriately the word irritated him after his journey. The doctors at the clinic were all in agreement. They labeled his condition with the same hopeless word. Terminal.
His cancer had metastasized. 18 months was the sentence proclaimed. He got nothing off for good behavior.
“Get your affairs in order, John!” the words ringing hollow in his head.
Sylvester was coming home to do just that. For a moment he thought it was a blessing that he and Beth couldn’t have children. But guilt washed over him, knowing that now his wife would be all alone. Her tears had been plentiful during their ordeal, but the determination as a last “second” opinion would surely open the floodgates.
J.D. sipped his drink. He thought it would give him “courage” and settle his nerves. But all that the Sweet Soco Manhattan did was excite the butterflies in his gut.
It is amazing how when your mind seems a million miles away, you don’t notice the obvious happenings around you. Announcements and recommendations filtered across the intercom.
“Approaching runway 19…”
“Tray tables in the upright…”
“Keep seat belts fastened until…”
The screech of the wheels as they contacted the runway, pierced him with a final thrust. As the plane taxied to the terminus, he tried to compose himself. How could he face Beth knowing he had refused all further treatment? He didn’t want to fight anymore. He just wanted to spend every minute he could loving the love of his life in his last months.
The line of passengers spilled into the waiting area, heading for the baggage claim. John had followed the others like cattle; mindlessly plodding along.
And there she was. Near the carousel. He saw Beth’s tears glisten down her cheek as she tried to retain some semblance of calm. As they embraced, he felt her shudder against his chest in muted sobs.
Pressing his cheek against hers he whispered “Beth, I love you so much!”
She gave a squeeze. Beth sniffed in her last tear.
“Let’s go home!” she whispered, never veering from his side.