The day had come: the day they had to tell their family. The car was nearly silent; the only noise came from 18-month-old Mia’s soft whimpering while she slept in the back seat. Avery and Ryan’s hands were interlaced and resting on the middle console. It was June 25th, and they were on their way to Sean and Sarah Adams’s house for dinner. Unfortunately, while most of their family thought they were bringing good news, the news that the Dobbs bore was far from good. Avery tried to hide how nervous she was, fighting tears and the urge to hyperventilate. Ryan turned into the Adams’s neighborhood and stopped a few houses away. He put the car in park, his eyes still ahead. Avery inhaled a shaky breath. She had to be strong. “Avery, I love you.” Ryan turned to her. He could see the tears flooding in her eyes. In a weak voice, Avery answered, “I love you, too.”
Ryan embraced her face in his strong hands and kissed her cheeks, removing the tears with his fingers. Avery knew he was hurting. She could see the darkness under his eyes and feel his hands shaking. They each took a deep breath, and Ryan drove the rest of the way to the house. When they arrived, Ryan prayed with his young wife and retrieved their daughter from the back seat. With one last look at each other, Avery and Ryan each found the other’s hand and walked to the front door. Avery held Mia close and, feeling the child’s warm breath on her skin, kissed the top of her forehead. As the door opened, the couple smiled and tried to seem as though they were in a good mood.
“Avery! Ryan! Come on in,” Sarah exclaimed as she welcomed them into the living room.
Avery loved her new sister-in-law. Sarah was just like a real sister, and Avery
knew that she would be a great help in the next couple of months. Even now, Avery
could tell that Sarah knew something was wrong. Sarah knew her too well. “Well, hey, little sister,” called Sean as he made his way down from his upstairs office. “Dinner should be ready soon,” announced Sarah. “I’m making tacos!” Sarah made her way back into the kitchen with a shy smile and a glance at her husband. Avery could see Sean’s reservation as he looked over at Ryan. “Well, man, hope you’re feeling better after that flu.” Ryan nodded in agreement and the men shook hands.
The family talked for a little while and then sat down at the table to eat. Dinner progressed with light conversation until Avery and Ryan both knew they couldn’t wait any longer. Sean and Sarah knew something was up. It was time. Ryan spoke in a quiet voice.
“May we go to the living room? We have something we need to tell you.”The two couples made their way to the other room and sat down across from each other. Both women sat close to their husbands, and Avery held her sleeping daughter tightly in her arms. Ryan cleared his throat and began to speak.
“A few days ago, I went to the doctor to figure out why I was having so many
headaches and felt so sick. Like you, we also assumed I had the flu. Turns out that
wasn’t it.” Ryan paused and swallowed hard. “The doctors ran some tests and found
a mass on my brain. They referred me to an oncologist and…there is no easy way to
say this, but I have cancer. I’m scheduled to have surgery, but the doctors don’t think
that will give me very long.”
The room was silent, except for the sound of Avery’s muffled sobs. Ryan, the man who was supposed to be strong, even had tears in his eyes. Sean spoke first. “How…long?” Although they all knew this was the most obvious question, it was a difficult question with an even harder answer. Ryan squeezed Avery’s hand and looked up.
“The cancer is extremely aggressive. I have six weeks to as much as six months without the surgery. If I have the surgery, it could buy me two years or more. It’s very risky, even life-threatening, but it seems to be the only option. The doctor was shocked that we didn’t catch it earlier, but this type of brain cancer works fast and furiously. The statistics are not very good.”
Defeat rang in the room. Sarah pulled out of her husband’s hold and made her way to Avery and Ryan, tears streaming down her cheeks. As she knelt down, Sean came to her side and they both began to pray. Even in the midst of their hurt, both couples knew that God was big enough for this. God could heal Ryan, and if He didn’t, then this time would be good for their family. After the couples prayed, their spirits were higher. They knew their God was bigger than this tumor, and they were going to enjoy this time…while they still had it