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I laugh hard at Bruce’s wicked humor, because it feels so good to laugh.
And because I would do anything for Nance, even make a life of true happiness without her there to share it.
He was smart, curious and beyond funny, with pale blue-green eyes and a naughty smile. “It’s a great room.”When I told Nance about this moment, she gasped and said, “No, no,” exhibiting that same protective disappointment as when my high school crush rejected me, as if she couldn’t imagine someone not falling for her best friend.“Exactly,” I said.
“First guy I actually like and he’s clearly not feeling it.” I paused to elevate the drama.
A chemo drip in her arm, Nance said, “You don’t have to sleep with him, but would you go out again? “But he’s not for me.”In fact, the whole dating game seemed more and more like a pathetic diversion.“Let me look at him again,” she said, tilting the screen. Tuesday had been a doubleheader — lunch with one man, coffee with another. She was tortured by the recurrence of her illness, by being pulled out of her life again, stuck in a hospital and made into a full-time patient.
One asked if he could call from his business trip so we could keep the momentum going.“You’re a dating success,” Nancy said, but her boast had no oomph. It seemed beyond wrong that I deserved anything, let alone a “great love,” while she once again lost her hair and prepared to endure a stem-cell transplant. A friend would be joining Nance and me to hang out for the afternoon and evening.
After a successful stem-cell transplant, months of post-transplant quarantine, a hopeful year and a half of health, the disease returned along with new protocols and terrible side effects.
Often it felt impossible to create a future with Bruce when Nancy’s life was increasingly compromised. It seemed incongruous that our hospital dating game eventually led to the day, 18 months later, that I called her to say, “Bruce and I are getting married.”“I told you,” Nance said with the know-it-all tone she had bossed me around with since grade school. Now tell me everything.”I took a long breath and began.
It was easy to weed out the unsuitable.“You’re perfect,” one man wrote.
A far better entertainment would be for me to get on so we could hang out together on her hospital bed scrolling through potential dates. We helped each other through every crisis — her separation, my divorce — along with our everyday worries as mothers.
Putting myself back on the dating market for her pleasure was the least I could do.
“Marry me.”“You’d look great in something silky,” another declared.
I didn’t reply to the gentleman who wrote, “I you want date and bring you to restaurant nice.”It took discipline not to reconsider my ban on younger men, and not just because Nance kept saying, “This is bleak, Vik,” as we scrolled through the age-appropriate ones.