To everyone’s surprise, Rob spoke first.
“Jakob. Mina,” Their father began. “Your mom and I love you very much. So, we want to make sure you know everything going on.”
Wil’s mother looked gratefully at her husband, then bestowed each of her children with a tender look of sad love. Jakob and Wil sat on the edge of the cushion, and attended their parents dutifully.
Rob looked a bit lost for words to continue with. He didn’t like long speeches, especially when they were wanted from himself. He looked to his wife, and found courage and inspiration in her trusting blue eyes. He cleared his throat.
“We’ve known about this condition from early on, but not as early as they should have.” He explained. “Your mom would have done better if they’d found it even earlier,” Rob glanced at his audience, who all nodded understanding.
Wil tried very hard to sit still, despite the torture of time it took her father to produce words, and the fact that he was repeating what they already knew. Fidgeting when he was talking made him take even longer.
Rob nodded, himself, then continued, “We’ve been fortunate to have your mom live this long, with what we can pay for.”
He rubbed the back of his neck, and looked at the floor.
“It’s been hard to pick what to pay for, because we know what will happen.” Rob swallowed, then said quietly, “In the end.”
“But, Mom always says we will all die,” Wil blurted out. “So, we should live for as long as we can.”
Wil’s father and stepbrother began to hush Wil, when Cynthia held up a hand. The IV tube dangled from it, down her arm. “Not quite, Wil,” she corrected gently. She pushed herself into a slightly more comfortable position, and sighed carefully.
“I said,” Wil’s mother continued softly, “We all die, so we should live the days that we can.” She looked fondly at them again. “The question of whether the cost is worth each new idea or treatment has always been there.”
Jakob glanced at his step-father before impetuously asking, “So, do they know how much longer you have left?”
Cynthia closed her eyes as Rob exclaimed, “Jakob!” and turned to fix his stepson an angry, disapproving look. Wil was glad that he had asked the question instead of her, although she equally longed for and dreaded an honest answer.
Jakob crossed his arms in a typical, defiant fashion, and waited. Rob rubbed a hand in irritation over the right side of his own face, then through his thinning blond hair. Wil had seen her father do this many times when he tried to talk with her.
“It’s okay, Rob.” Cynthia said quietly, and opened eyes of resigned sorrowing. She breathed her oxygen and room air deeply and slowly in, then out. “Just tell them.”
Rob set his jaw, then softened when he realized he needed to get this speech over with to stop the necessity of talking.
“There’s a new drug out, but we would have to borrow to afford it.” He looked to the swirling desert sea print on the wall for distraction. “And, we’d only buy about five more years if all goes well.”
Wil and Jakob both thought about this news and what it would mean. They knew what the family would have to pick, but would feel like callous traitors for it.