AS SOON AS the doctor came out and told us that Claire’s surgery went well and that she was resting comfortably, I left. Shitty thing to do, I know, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t stand to drink one more cup of shitty hospital coffee and I was losing my mind pacing the shitty halls. I told everyone I was going to pick up some food so we didn’t have to eat one more shitty meal in the cafeteria, grabbed the keys from Jim and ran to the parking garage. I’ve done nothing but drive around for an hour. I drove past Seduction and Snacks where we made our dreams come true, the park where Claire and I used to take the kids when they were little, the elementary school where we both got kicked out of the PTA for rolling our eyes at the president when she told us we needed to be more bubbly to be in the Parent Teacher Association, the high school where we met and then later sent our own kids, and finally, the hotel where Gavin and Charlotte had decided to have their wedding reception in six months.
Our kids are getting married, something we used to talk about when they were babies and it’s actually happening. We’ve been fighting over what color dresses we’re going to wear and who’s going to cater the event and what song would be the perfect one to dance to when it comes time for the mother/daughter, mother/son dance. All the years of dreaming, all these months of planning and arguing and now I don’t know if my best friend will even be there when our children tie the knot. There hasn’t been one major event in my life that Claire hasn’t been there for and now, the biggest one of all is coming and I might have to do it on my own. It’s not fair. I can’t do this without her. I can’t do anything without her.
Before I head back to the hospital, I decide to stop by Claire’s house and pick up a few things that she might need. I’m sure Carter packed everything in her closet, but I’m not ready to go back to the hospital just yet. I need some time to get my head on straight so I don’t break down crying as soon as I walk into her room.
Pulling into the driveway, I see Carter’s car parked in front of the garage and wonder what he’s doing home. Figuring he had the same idea as me, I let myself into the house to look for him. When I get close to the kitchen, a can of green beans comes flying out into the hallway, denting the wall right next to my head. Crouching down, I peek around the kitchen doorway right as Carter reaches into the pantry and swipes his arm across every single shelf, sending cans of soup, boxes of Mac N Cheese, canisters of sugar and about a hundred other things crashing to the floor. When the pantry is empty, he moves on to the cabinets, yanking out pots and pans and tossing them across the room. Pans crash into the table, lids smack into the wall and he kicks a bag of flour out of his way as he moves across the room to wreak havoc on the cupboards under the island. Unfortunately, the toe of his shoe hits the bag of flour just right and the entire thing explodes, a cloud of white powder poofing all over the floor and the front of his jeans.
“MOTHERFUCKER!” he screams.
I’ve never seen Carter like this and for a minute, I’m afraid to approach him. I quickly pull out my phone and send a text to Jim and Drew, hoping they can get their asses over here and help me out.
Carter sees me cowering in the doorway and stalks over to me as I shove my phone in my pocket.
“I don’t know what the fuck to do,” he tells me angrily before turning and slamming his foot into a Tupperware dish, sending it flying across the room.
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK TO DO!” he screams.
He clutches his hands in his hair and I’m frozen in place as I watch him sink to the ground on his knees in the middle of the mess.
“FUCK YOU, GOD! FUCK YOU FOR DOING THIS TO HER!” he cries, his shoulders shaking with sobs as he completely breaks down.
I force myself to move, stepping over cans and boxes as I rush to his side and get down on my knees next to him, wrapping my arms around his heaving shoulders.
“This isn’t fair! Goddammit, this isn’t fair,” he tells me angrily.
His entire body is shaking and for the first time since I found out about Claire being sick, I don’t feel so helpless and alone. All this time, Carter has been a rock for Claire, doing whatever she needed and taking care of things when rage and fear were bubbling just under the surface. We share a love for Claire that is different in a lot of ways, but so alike in others. She is our soul mate and we are both caught in the middle of wanting to do everything we can to make her better, yet knowing there’s not a damn thing we can do.
“I can’t do this without her, Liz, I can’t. Every part of my life is wrapped up in her. She’s my wife, the mother of my children and my everything. How am I supposed to live without her?” he sobs.
I don’t know how to answer him because everything I can think to say would be so fucking cliché. She’s going to be fine. You aren’t going to lose her. She’s strong and she’s going to fight this.
It’s all bullshit. All of it. We want her to be fine. We want her to be with us forever, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. How do you prepare yourself for a life without your soul mate, while at the same time holding onto hope that they will be okay? You have to walk a fine line between hope and reality, and every single day that line gets thinner and thinner. Eventually, you’re going to have to tip one way or another and you have no way of knowing which way it will be. It’s enough to drive you insane, to push you over the edge and make you question everything you thought you knew about yourself as a person.