Ben called me this morning and according to the caller ID, it was from his house. I interpreted this as good news.
CS: Hey man. How's it going? How's Agnes?
BR: Oh, she's still in the hospital. I'm about to drive over there now. Did you want to come?
BR: Okay. I'll pick you up in twenty minutes.
CS: 'Kay thanks. Bye.
BR: (hangs up)
Brian pulled up half an hour later. I expect the snow held him up a little. I hopped in his car and we were on our way to the Peter Lougheed Hospital.
CS: So how's she doing?
BR: Well that's hard to say. On one hand, she's hospitalized. She's had trouble keeping food down. She looks different. She doesn't have the energy to talk much. But on the other hand, she's still got a positive outlook. She tries to smile at me, or at the the kids a lot. It's weird, she comforts me when the doctors give us updates, because she doesn't seem to be upset by it. I can hardly handle it. Without her help, I'd be a mess.
CS: ...Uh... what does she have?
BR: I never told you?! Oh man. She has pancreatic cancer. They're going to operate as soon as she's a little bit better. I think they're going to remove it. Actually, they're messing around a lot in there. I guess it's pretty major, so they have to wait a bit.
CS: ... (I was speechless. I'm terrible at these things.)
BR: But she's getting a little better, well, what I mean is, she comes and goes. And today is a good day, so that's why I wanted to bring you. My parent's are bringing my kids too.
It's at this point where Brian becomes silent. We pull up to a red light, in the left turning lane on pretty dormant street about halfway to the hospital. He puts the car in park and opens the door. I could sense some sort of tension, so I didn't say anything when he opened the door and stepped out onto the snowy median. I looked over at him, about ten meters behind the car. He was on his knees. I knew I had to go to him, but not yet. Somehow I knew he had to be alone right now. I waited. I heard some snow crunch and looked back to see him returning to the car. I was nervous. His eyes were open wide. He seemed shocked. He started to speak, and every word affected me, like it had substance and passed through me.
BR: God just put his arms around me and was holding me back there. She's dead. Craig, she's dead. He was preparing me for that. I see now, that he's been preparing me for days now.
I was as shocked as he looked.
BR: Can you drive? I wanna go see her.
I got out and walked around the car and got in. I started the car, and continued to the hospital.
His phone rang.
BR: (Flips open his phone, reads the number.) Mom? (his voice is so troubled)
BR: I know... I'll be right there...(hangs up)
What I heard next was completely unbearable. Brian was breaking down. His hands were shaking. He was wiping his face with his palm from ear to chin deliberately and slowly. His hand was completely stiff as he did so. He said things that were moans of pain but were simultaneously words. His speech was so quiet and desperate. He was breathing as though he was shivering.
BR: tsk no..... oh no... no no no no....
My eyes teared up and I had to blink my tears away so I could see the road.
BR: no...oh...oh... not my baby... tsk... my sweetie's gone... Oh no... no...tsk I can't.
I wanted to tell him I was sorry. But there was a lump in my throat. I half cried, half spoke.
CS: I'm so sorry.
For the rest of the drive neither of us spoke, and he just slumped in his seat and stared out the window, looking at nothing.
***At this time I have to take a break from writing this up. It's too hard. My apologies. We'll miss you Agnes. You were one of a kind and the best kind of person.