Kismet in the form of an unopened letter.
Since 1998, more precisely February 12, 1998, as the calendar turned over to a new year each time, I thought about that date. The important date for me was February 12, 2003. That would be the magical date for Joanie to be declared a cancer survivor. It would be five years, and the number, though it seems arbitrary, meant something to me. After all, the odds on survival rate after the pelvic exenteration was just over 60 per cent.
We had made it through 1999, 2000, 2001, were in the middle of 2002, and it seemed like this holy grail was going to be within our reach. So far, there had been nothing to indicate the date wasn’t going to pass without incident, and we would have reason for celebration, after all, Joanie had already made it over four years, and was doing fine.
She didn’t pay any attention to the calendar, not that she would tell me if she did, but I did. We never talked about it, as if to do so would put a jinx on it. She preferred to ignore it, and just get on with life. I did so too, but it was never far from my mind.
As far as Joanie was concerned, there was too much to do, and she was too busy doing it to care about anything else.
During those years we still had to make trips to see Dr. Carson, and it was one of those times we had a rare appointment for late on a Friday afternoon, or so we thought we did. Since the appointment was for four o’clock, we didn’t leave until the morning, and even then we made quick stop at Mable Murphy’s, for do not do so would be bad luck. We got to the clinic with minutes to spare, and when she went to check in, we were told Dr. Carson was out of town, and they asked us if we got a letter telling us the appointment had been changed.
We both pleaded ignorance, and went to sit down for a minute. It was then I realized that the envelope I had seen a week ago, with the clinic’s return address on it must have been the notification. We hadn’t opened it, thinking it was just a reminder of the upcoming appointment.
Joanie and I sat there in the wating room, the only ones there by now, and both laughed. Wondering what we should do now, I made a suggestion. Joanie was an organized person, and liked making plans, me not so much. I was more prone to taking what we were given and running with it. I think a shrink would say that was impulsive, but it worked for me. I thought of it as being spontaneous. I told her since no one knew we were in town, and we had a room at the Radisson, why not just take the weekend and enjoy ourselves. We wouldn’t call anybody we knew, and would just go do what the hell we wanted to do and find a good restaurant for dinner on Saturday night and pretend that the appointment went fine, and we got good news.
She agreed it was a good plan, but before we left the clinic, she made another appointment to see Dr. Carson. From there we went to Sally’s and sat down at the bar, which was full of the usual late afternoon Friday crowd, students, nurses from the clinic and hospital, professors and others getting ready for the weekend, and after ordering, we clinked our glasses in a toast to one of the best clinic appointments she’d never had.
Saturday, we found a good coffee shop first, then we went downtown, walked around the Nicollet Mall window shopping and browsing at Dayton’s, doing nothing in particular, had lunch at The Loon Cafe, went back for a nap around mid day, and that night we went to the Lexington, a place we both loved, for dinner. When we got back to the Radisson that night, we did something we hadn’t been able to do in a long time, and that was stop at the bar and have a Baileys for a nightcap. It turned out to be one of the best weekends we had had in a long time.
We left early Sunday morning to drive back to Bismarck, and when we got home, I fished out the letter from the clinic which told us that her appointment had been cancelled, and she was supposed to call to reschedule. We laughed again.
I told her, it was Kismet, we were meant to have that weekend alone together, free from medical issues, and that’s why neither one of us had opened it. I don’t think she bought it, but I wasn’t so sure I was wrong.
It had been a long time since we had made a non-medical trip to one of our favorite places, Minneapolis/St.Paul, and she deserved it.