Something’s up with Ashley. She’s been anxious for weeks. If I ask her a question and she happens to answer, her responses are snappy. Otherwise, she just ignores my question altogether. Thinking it was work-related stress, I let it slide. The video game has gone into production and she ought to be much more relaxed.
Not the case.
Another thing that raised my eyebrow was her cell phone. She changed her lock code three weeks ago. Nothing happened three weeks ago…what the hell is she hiding? I check the clock on the wall. Ashley’s been gone for two hours. I send her a text.
Are you coming home tonight?
Instead of waiting for a response, I call the one person who knows what’s going on with Ashley: her mother Renee.
“Hellllloooo!!!!!” Renee sings. She’s so animated.
“Hi Renee,” I respond, trying my best to stifle laughter.
“How are you and my grandbaby?”
“We’re doing well. I’m swollen and hungry.”
“Welcome to pregnancy dear. I was just telling Ashley’s dad that with this upcoming down time, I can finally visit ya’ll.”
“That would be awesome. You know how much I love when you visit…and cook.”
I sigh. Here goes nothing.
“Ashley has been acting really odd lately. I thought it was work-related, but…”
Before I could finish, Renee interrupts.
“Hold on Susan. You need to know that Ashley’s going through some things. I promised her I wouldn’t say anything but I don’t want you to worry.”
Too damn late. My mind starts considering the worst of possibilities.
“Breathe Susan. I need to hear you breathing before I continue.”
Inhaling deeply, I exhale loudly.
“Thank you. Ashley said she has been having these horrible coughing fits for the past month. They keep getting worse. About two weeks ago, she was in a meeting when she started coughing. She went to the bathroom, coughed into a napkin, and saw flecks of blood.”
I start feeling lightheaded. Stay centered Susan, stay centered.
“I knew she was coughing, but she went to the doctor and was on medication. She’s gotten better.”
My chest is heavy.
“The doctor gave her medication for a lung infection, which helped for a bit, but the coughing got worse. She went back to the doctor for X-rays and that’s when they…”
Her voice trails of. Sniffling, she clears her throat.
“…found a tumor on her lung.”
Tears flow down my face. My legs shake and I fall down, my head hitting the floor.