Submitted by Gilda Proctor
Posted March 2011

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Cancer is a word none of us want to hear but in reality will probably affect each and every one of us in some way. It can strike anyone at any time and so often the outcome is devastating. Some cancers are treatable through chemotherapy, radiation and even surgery while others have a less than promising prognosis. Research has shown that the leading cause of cancer deaths among men is lung cancer. There are two main groups, non-small cell which accounts for about 85% and the less frequent small cell lung cancer. Due to the aggressive nature of small cell and the failure to catch it in the early stages it can be the deadliest.

As Gilda and her husband Rodney listened to the doctor explain the cause of Rodney’s fatigue it felt as if all the air had been sucked out of the room. Diagnosed with small cell lung cancer their outlook on life had instantly become dismal with little hope of restoration. Numbness gripped them as they made their way back home. How would they cope with something of such magnitude? The best prognosis the doctor could give him was 6 to 12 months. As with so many others faced with their own mortality the things they had considered important drastically changed. Time, which is so easily taken for granted, suddenly became very precious to both of them.

Gilda was frightened at the prospect of losing her husband. Ever since they met they had been inseparable. They were like Frick & Frack, a phrase commonly used for two people who are closely linked. If you saw one of them the other was most certainly close by. Although she was afraid of what her future would be like she was determined to be strong and encouraging for her husband. Gilda spent as much time as possible caring for her husband and tending to his needs. As the cancer progressed he experienced difficulty in breathing and had to have the assistance of an oxygen tank. She continued to show him and express to him her unconditional love. During several of their conversations about what was coming Gilda begged him to please give her a sign to let her know that everything was ok. He agreed to her request knowing how much his wife would need the reassurance.

On November 24, 2010, Rodney passed away 30 minutes before Thanksgiving Day. It had only been a few weeks earlier that they had celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary. When she married Rodney she had planned to spend the rest of her life with him. She had pictured the both of them together, retired and enjoying the golden years. Life had different plans and now she found herself having to adjust to being alone. Tears flowed regularly as she mourned his loss. Repeatedly she would cry out to him asking him to please, please, send her a sign. She even reminded him of the promise he had made. She made sure he knew it had to be an unmistakable sign, one that she wouldn’t be able to explain away. It had been three weeks and she was still waiting for him to let her know everything was ok.

After Rodney’s death there were many legal things Gilda had to attend to. It seemed that every night after work she was searching through papers for one thing or another. Finally after looking everywhere for the car title she remembered one place she had not checked. She went straight to the drawer that contained all her husband’s research about his cancer and other assorted medical papers. She situated herself on the floor and went through each piece of paper sorting and stacking them in front of her. About halfway through her search she came across a Christmas card and Valentine’s Day card. They were unsigned but had obviously been bought for her in advance by her husband. Tears sprang from her eyes and she broke down into sobs. Her love for him was overwhelming and such a simple gesture meant the world to her. It was the best Christmas gift and Valentine’s gift she could ever imagine receiving now. She looked up towards heaven and said, “Thank you, Honey.”

Before going to bed that evening Gilda had decided to return the nightlight that had been removed to accommodate Rodney’s oxygen tank. While she was at it she went ahead and replaced all the nightlight bulbs in the house. Finally, after slipping under the covers Gilda closed her eyes and fell fast asleep. She slumbered peacefully until around 3:00 am when she woke from a dream about Rodney. Sensing a presence she couldn’t explain, Gilda made her way into the kitchen for a glass of water.

As she climbed back into bed the nightlight she had just plugged in earlier went out. Gilda was frustrated because she knew it was a brand new bulb that shouldn’t go out. She proceeded to get back up to check on it but before she could the light suddenly came back on. Now she wondered if there could be a short in the light. Deciding to wait until morning to check it she laid back down. The light went out again. After about 30 seconds it came back on. Four times it repeated this little sequence and she began to think it was a little strange. Gilda got up and again went in the kitchen, a little unnerved by the whole ordeal. After a while she decided it best to go on to bed because she had an early morning ahead of her.

Just as the new day dawned so did Gilda’s comprehension of the events that had transpired. Just to confirm her intuition, Gilda checked the nightlight and found it to be in perfect working order. A newfound excitement sprang up with the realization that her husband had indeed kept his promise. Her weeks of anxiously waiting were over and at last she believed in her heart that all was well with Rodney. A wave of peaceful comfort swept over her as she turned her eyes upward and thanked her husband once again. Gilda wrapped that reassurance tightly around her heart and faced the future confident that Rodney would always be with her, steadfastly watching over her. The nightlight never went out again.