“Everything is going to be okay.”
Joanie had talked to John and Mikey Hoeven, before we left, and they just told her to not worry about anything. They were as supportive as they could be, and always had been. Like Ed and Nancy Schafer before them, they had always told us, the important thing is that Joanie gets the care and treatment she needs. That wasn’t enough for her. She took her office laptop with her, and would be able to work while she was down there. Kristi had told her they had a router, and she would be able to log on to her office computer or our home computer any time she wanted to. At least that was her plan.
We got her settled in at the Sagsveen’s on Sunday night, and the next morning I went with her to see Dr. Dusenbery at Therapeutic Radiology at the U of M Medical Center, where she would be receiving the radiation over the next three weeks. Joanie seemed a bit nervous when we got to Katie’s office, but after five minutes with Katie she was fine. Katie had this way of interacting with Joanie that really put her at ease. She also trusted Katie and had complete confidence in her.
I was able to be with her up until the time they were ready to turn on the machine. The room with this huge machine was large itself, brightly lit and cool. She took her place on the bed she would lie on during the treatment. The bed slid into the doughnut hole, and they adjusted everything according to the measurements they had taken when the did the initial simulation. Once that was done, we left the room, and they closed the door.
I was able to watch what was going on as the doctors sat at screens, and computers, and I didn’t have an idea of what they were doing. I didn’t bother them, and since I probably couldn’t understand their answers, I didn’t ask any questions. I figured they knew what was going on.
When the first one was done, and the longest part of the process was getting ready, she was now ready for them all to be done. She got dressed, and as we were walking out to the parking ramp, she said, “Well, only 14 more to go.” She smiled at me as she said it, and I felt better about her state of mind, and about leaving.
We went for lunch, and while we were waiting for our food, she looked at me and said, “Do you think you could stay?” I told her if she wanted me to, we could work that out, knowing that she was only talking about what she wished could happen, all the time knowing the way we were doing it was the right way. It was those moments, and there had been several of them over the years, when I realized how much she meant to me, and it was all I could do to keep from melting.
We finished lunch and left for the airport so I could catch an early afternoon flight back to Bismarck. When we got to the airport, I got out, and opened the driver side door for Joanie. I gave her a big hug, told her I’d be talking to her later in the day, and that everything was going to be okay. She kissed me, told me she loved me, and got in the car, looking a little sad, but trying to smile. I waved and she drove off.
Once in the air, as we flew out over the city that had become like a second home for us, I thought about how this was all going to work out. My only hope was that what I told her turned out to be true, and that everything was going to be okay.