Where The Popsicles Are-102

Ambivalence: “Simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action.”

As June 2nd, the day we had an appointment with Joanie’s doctor, Dr. Linda Carson at the University of Minnesota Gynecologic Cancer Clinic approached, it was not lost on either one of us that we were now in the 11th year of making trips like this.

Each of the countless number of trips we had made between Bismarck and Minneapolis was met with the same ambivalence on Joanie’s part. Unlike the dictionary definition, I don’t think there was an attraction as such, but there was anticipation surrounding what we might find at the end of the road. There wasn’t a repulsion, but more of a fear surrounding what we might find at the end of the road as well.

So, Joanie was, as I saw it, dealing with anticipation and fear, and her behavior prior to every time we would be getting ready to leave, was evidence of that.

This trip was no different, only now I viewed the stakes as being higher. We already knew what the PET scan revealed, but we really didn’t know what that would mean for the future treatments, or what else the future might hold. These questions were on our minds as we got ready to go, and there was little doubt in my mind, that if she could have gotten away with not going, and just had me drive down and talk to Dr. Carson and find out what she wanted to do next, that would be fine with her. She also knew that wasn’t going to happen.

Our routine the day we left was the same as it had been since the first trips, but this time, she was more subdued than I had seen her in many of them. She didn’t say much to me while the miles clicked by, but when we got to Mabel Murphy’s in Fergus Falls she started to loosen up. This stop gave me a chance to have a smoke, outside of course, and it always seemed like when we got there, we were almost in the Cities.

We ordered something to drink and some munchies, and while we waited for our food, she looked at me, and in voice that was barely audible, asked me if we could go back home now. I sat there for a moment before I answered. She looked so vulnerable at that point, I almost melted. I wondered if all of the trips, and all of the troubles that had come with the trips over the last 10 years was finally taking an emotional toll that might be coming to a head. I smiled just a little, and said, “Look, we can certainly do that. We can do anything you want to do right now. All I have to do is call Marcia and cancel the appointment and reschedule.”

She smiled at me, and for a moment I wasn’t sure if she was going to take me up on it or not. I kind of knew she wouldn’t, but I think just by asking the question she was telling me she was tired, and afraid, and wanted this to be over and for things to be okay. It was moments like this when it seemed we were as close as any two human beings could be to one another. It was times like this when words were superfluous.

We sat there for a few minutes, saying nothing until our food came, and when it did, neither one of us was as hungry as we had been when we came in. Joanie picked at a few things, and before long said, “We should go now.”

I paid the tab, and we walked out into the bright afternoon sunshine to finish another trip to Minneapolis and uncertainty.

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About Bob Kallberg

Retired reporter. Concentrating now on recounting Joanie's 12 year battle with cancer, a battle she waged with extreme courage, determination and an indomitable spirit, that, for me, serves as an example.
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