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graduation

Suddenly after 158 Days of Almost Total Suck, it's graduation day.

It really wasn't the best of times and it came very close to being the worst of times. Quite frankly while chemo sucked, it didn't totally suck.    

But it sure came close. One hundred and fifty-eight days of almost total suck. I can't imagine what totally suck would have been like. Actually I can. I'm still counting my blessings.   There was comfort in the discomfort, as odd as that seems. The discomfort became a routine fixture during the last almost six months. Sure there were side effects but all in all, they were more annoying than anything.   


Was it the worst thing ever? No. Nothing like the 8th grade zipper mishap due to really tight jeans and a pair boxers; or the broken front tooth due to a bad somersault while trying to impress a girl in 3rd grade; or the bee-sting-in-the-mouth while unknowingly sharing a can of Coke with that buzzy little bitch whose burning bite began with a bit of a blossom that ka-boomed into a full bloom causing the right half my face to billow up to a king-sized pillow giving me the appearance of the back half of an armadillo browsing Zillow with a Cigarillo in Amarillo. It was as big as a basketball that did require an emergency room visit but only after finishing a photo shoot for a caustic, unsympathetic not-on-my time client who I had already turned into an "I'll never work for you again" soon-to-be former client, the assface.    

While my basketball face went away, that assface will be an assface forever.  

All that stuff was bad right away. The chemo was a long, slow drain. By the third treatment I finally understood the true meaning of worn down, and by number five I was worn out. Number six was postponed. Meds were adjusted and I weeble-wobbled through the next seven treatments just nearly depleted. 

Horrible? A bit. Would I want to do it again? No. Hell no. A good experience? Well, actually, it was.   

Enter the Cool Kids on Chemo, the gang of regulars at the Chemo Bar I hung out with during Happy Hour every other Monday. We'd start at 9 a.m. and be done by 2 p.m. when we'd do the chemo shuffle on our way out, hanging on to each other in high hopes of preventing a trip and fall which could very likely cause a domino effect in which case wed end up in a big ol' "Ring Around the Rosie all fall down" dogpile. We'd mush-mouth ourselves silly with our tries at goodbyes which, to no one's surprise, sounded like a bevy of boozed-up best buddies. And that we were. Together we endured our cocktails which unquestionably were really strong and undeniably were a lot more expensive than even in the finest bars anywhere. And absolutely worth every penny. 

All drinks are served by a pleasant wait staff wearing scrubs and some in disposable hazmat suits with their name handwritten in blue Sharpie, and get this: every bathroom in the joint is spotless with walls just begging for graffiti. I didn't but was very tempted.     


Someone in our group monitored the closest bathroom for when it was all clear to go in. Or, more importantly if another patient had been in there too long which only meant, well let's just say the air would be quite fragrant but not in good way. Nothing an exhaust fan could even deal with.    

In those cases, we'd toddle down the hall to another restroom. One thing about chemo, what goes in, does need to come out. Usually with a vengeance.    

These are my people. Friends who became family since January 3. What a time its been. I can't even imagine what it would have been like without them.   

In our huddles, the sight of an empty chair was always alarming. We'd worry and usually think the worst. Human nature in this place, I guess.   

And today, there was one. 

I apparently have the most structurally sound levee in the world that held back all my tears just seeing it.   

It wasn't the case with the others. They knew.   

Sweet old Mr. Robinson was doing his best to blink his tears away. The Bionic Woman was holding her newspaper up high to hide hers but it didn't muffle her sniffles. Mrs. Druker would wipe away an occasional tear that had welled up enough to where her eye just couldn't hold it any longer and it spilled out onto her cheek and then in the guise of adjusting her head wrap, she'd wipe it away thinking no one would see.  

And there in the corner sat the very heart and soul of our Cool Kids on Chemo, the sainted Nana Mangia---so full of love and warmth and kindness and everything that is the very essence of grandmother. From across the room she could hug you into comfort. Just being with her made you realize that all would be right in the world. 

But make no mistake: there is a very pronounced ying to her yang. She has a very sly sense of humor that she keeps under wraps but always at the ready if needed to sling a wisecrackingly barbed comment---slung at just the right moment and always on target. She often delivers them often without even looking up from her constant knitting accompanied with the clickety clack of her needles, a soundtrack that is both soothing and a bit annoying at the same time. Who would ever think such things would come of that seemingly sweet woman's mouth? But they sure did.   

Nana was quiet today and quite uncharacteristically so. No offering up treats from her basket of fresh baked goods and certainly none of her well-timed asides. Timing is everything. This apparently wasn't the time.   

It was the sight of that empty chair.   

She looked up from her needlework for just an instant. I could see freshly formed tears following the paths of earlier ones.   

And then, the levee breached a bit. Some of my tears seeped through. Seeing Nana silently weep, precipitated my precipitation, it was the unspoken reason that we all were tearful that really made it happen.  The "we don't want to talk about"one.  

That empty chair was mine.    

My last day. No more chemo for me. Twelve out of 12 treatments. Done.  

It was closing time at the Chemo Bar. At least for me.     

I graduated today.     

This is one of the happy/sad times. One of us is leaving because treatments were completed. We're happy for that; sad because one of our close-knit group is won't be with us any longer. There had been two others since I had been there. And now its my turn.   

Early this morning while going over my final CT scan, my oncologist, who is a right-to-the point kind of guy, got right to the point. Today I needed that to help wash away the scanxiety I had had for a couple of days. No beating around the bush, no sugar coating, no hemming and hawing and no flip flam.  Just do it.

And he did: "You're cancer free."

Three little words that on their own are blah, blah, blah. But together, they make the most beautiful lyric ever sung.

The levee broke open right then. Tears gushed.   

Such an odd concoction of tear types: pure jubilation; sadness for my friends' heartbreak; excitement at closing this chapter of worry and concern and fear and the beginning of the new one of who knows what; and finally those tears of displacement and disruption. 

For six months this was my life: Four hours of slow-dripping chemo on Mondays preceded by blood testing and meeting with oncology folks. Nearly three hours on Wednesday for a carry-out pump disconnect and a replenishing bag of fluids. A quick in-and-out on Thursday and Friday for injections. And then waiting for four or five days for the chemo fog to lift and coherency to return. Then one week off before repeating the whole process.    

I fared much better than most. I escaped the constant nausea, the pounding headaches, the surprise diarrhea attacks and constantly feeling terrible. But I do have needles-and-pins tingles in my fingers and toes that are cold all the time and not as much hair anywhere. I'm kind of college skinny, my immune system isn't up to snuff, I tire easily although I do operate at about three-quarter speed most days; mentally everything is a just bit hazy and my fingerprints have sunken into near nothingness. Most of these effects should go away and revert to how life was before. Some may not.    

I'm quite fortunate. My oncologist says I'm a tough guy. "Most patients won't go the distance with this stuff. But you made it look easy."  

Easy it wasn't. Worth it it was: I'm cancer free. 

The future is wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling blue skies. I never stopped firmly believing it would be. Well, not never ever but those times passed quickly. I'm always one to keep my sunny side up.  Except for a short time when I did the dark alternative. It wasn't me. Hated it and hated me. I wandered back to the sunny side. This is me and on this journey it has served me well. 

  

While I'm leaving the Chemo Bar, I'll never leave my chemo family. Ever. We have this bond between us that will never loosen. Cancer does have that going for it. But nothing else, that evil son of a bitch.  

And that empty chair? Forever mine.  

"Don't let anyone take my seat. I'll be back! Just to visit though, no more cocktails. Maybe a cannoli or two. But for now I'm out of here.  You will be missed and always loved. Well most of you. Well, just some, actually. OKAY! All of you! We're family! What's not to love about you all?"

Together, we did the chemo shuffle to the elevators en masse for the last time. All the tears dried up and turned into laughter. We couldn't walk a straight line if we tried. The extra hour we spent together attempting coherent goodbyes took care of most of our mush mouth to the point we could actually be understood, especially by others. Sort of. Even some of the treatment staff joined us. God bless those angels.   

I got in the elevator and we quietly waved farewell. As the doors were converging, I heard Nana Mangia quietly count to three and then my loving family yelled in unison, "We love you, you big mamaluke!!"

I immediately jabbed my arm out to stop the doors from closing and stuck my head out, "Who are you calling a big mamaluke?"

"YOU!" they all yelled. 

 "Just checking. I'll miss you all. You ain't seen the last of me."  

And out of the mouth of the sainted grandmother:"That's what we're afraid of!"  

That Nana Mangia. I'll miss her the most. She certainly helped to make these 158 days not totally suck what with her freshly baked treats, that sly wisecracking and the constant clickety clacking. But mostly it was her grandmotherly hugs when I needed them most to let me know that all would right in my world.    

And it is.   

Actually not quite. I just realized that water is pooling around my feet as I'm writing this. 

  

I've got to go figure out whats going on. But first, thank­ you all who have followed along on this journey. Your comments, well wishes, good vibes and prayers made it so much easier and meant so much and definitely made a difference. I couldn't have done it without you.

And just like the Cool Kids on Chemo, you ain't seen the last of me either. Adventures await all of which will need some reportage. Stand by.     

Ugh. This water. An overflowing toilet. Not my thing to fix. But certainly my fault this time. I just had a feeling. Nana Mangia is right: I'm such a big mamaluke.   

Happy graduation day to me. 

This is going to totally suck.

But not for long. 

The plumber is on the way.

Soon all will be right in this big mamaluke's world again.     



rabies blog


A frigid chill ripped through me as I sauntered into the Chemo Bar. Nana Mangia's chair was empty. We always are very uneasy when one of our group is missing. Human nature I guess. We always think the worst.

But Nana Mangia. Our matriarch. Everyone's sainted Italian grandmother whether related or not. Our beloved clickety-clack constant crocheter who delights us with homemade delicacies and enlightens us with sage asides, often delivered in such a quiet, understated way that her sly verbal barbs don't hurt until at least ten minutes later.

Her chair was empty today.

I was afraid to ask.

But me being me, I asked. No one in our Cool Kids on Chemo group knew. They hadn't asked. They wanted to know but they didn't want to know. But they really did. 

The fear.

When Nurse Debbie, an angel right here on earth if ever there was one---actually the entire staff at the Chemo Bar is full of angels; God bless them for what they do---came to give me the first of two rabies shots this week.

They're not really rabies shots. It's just what I call them. Its some stuff that encourages and entices the growth of white blood cells. Kind of like Viagra for neutrophils, stimulating them so that, well, you know, they do it. They get all the pleasure and I get all the benefits.  And I'm good with that. Side effects? Of course!! And much like those with chemo, considering the alternative, they're just fine. Annoying as hell. But just fine.

So as Nurse Debbie is dumping my first round of cocktails into the port buried in my chest which makes for easy access and quick reaction, I whispered, "So Nana? Any word?"

"Oh! She's down in the salon. Her great-granddaughter gave her a dye job last night while she was sleeping. Bright blue. Shes getting it fixed now."

The Chemo Bar AND Salon. This place has everything and anything to help out cancer patients.

Apparently, Nana Mangia came in huffing and puffing early that morning. Muttering this and sputtering that which would make any Italian blush. And for those who don't speak the language, even they would understand: she was a bit upset. Her head was wrapped turban-style. Very uncharacteristic. She loved to show off her beautiful alabaster hair, always well-coifed with an architecturally sound bed of befuddled braids that begged for, but balked at, becoming a beehive by way of a bouffant. But breathtaking nonetheless. I'm sure it took hours but this woman undoubtedly does her 'do daily and was quite proud of it. And rightfully so.

Nurse Debbie sensed something was amiss.

"Nana? Is everything okay?"

"Yes and no. Oh, here have a cannoli."

"What's the 'no' part?"

"My great granddaughter played hair stylist last night while I was napping. Just look."

She snapped off the head scarf with the majesty of a magician unveiling his, well, magic.

Her hair was blue. Neon blue. Shockingly neon blue. REALLY shockingly neon blue.

"Oh. Interesting. She did a very good job," said Nurse Debbie while choking down a gasp.

"Think I can get in the hair salon today?"

"I'll see what I can do. I think this classifies as an emergency. How many cannolis you have there? our angel said with a wink."

"Probably not enough. But I'll bring more tomorrow.'

The miracle worker worked a miracle.

"Let's go. They'll get you in now."

"Oh bless you. How many cannolis?"

"Just two."

"Bless them."

And off they went before anyone could see.

"Oh my God. Blue?" I asked. "I've got to go see."

"Bright blue! And no you won't. She told me specifically not to tell you."

"Debbie! Darling, I'd only go in support. Surely she needs some consoling and a calming spirit in this time of trauma. And who better than I?"

"She said 'Absolutely do not tell Andy.'"

"Fine. I won't go," nearly biting my tongue in two. Or three.

So! While Nurse Debbie toddled off to tend to other tasks, I hopped up out of my recliner and told Mr. Robinson that if she asks, tell her I'm in the bathroom which wasn't really a lie. It'd be my first stop on the way to the salon. This cocktail stuff. What goes is, does come out. With my rolling cocktail tree in hand, off I went on my mission of mercy.

Clanging and banging into the salon, I broke the quiet even more, "Any chance I can these roots touched up? I've got a CT scan tomorrow and I simply must look my best."

Heads snapped towards me.

The stylist: "Not today. Booked up full. Next week!"

With the slowest, most dramatic head turn ever, the much revered Nana tossed out, "Roots? You've got to have  hair to have roots. You've got neither. Here. Have a cannoli."

Ouch.

"Well, Nana Mangia! What are you doing here?"

 As a million smarty alecky remarks crowdsourced in my head, not one escaped. At the moment.

But less than 20 seconds later…. "You okay? You seem kind of blue." I hate myself sometimes.

I can't say this was one of those times.

Fortunately, for me, by now her dye job done died and her hair was just the tingiest azure; an eek of indigo if you will. And even if you won't. So she didn't know that I knew. Both Nurse Debbie and I were safe from the wrath of this beloved woman. Maybe. She more than me.

Of course.

"I'm just having a wash and comb out," she said. "And then my braiding of course. Mona here is the best. Maybe she can do something with that.

"What?"

"That!"

"That what?"

"That THAT!"

"WHAT?!?"

"Come 'ere. THIS THAT!" she exasperated all over my forehead while flicking my one remaining bang the stood like an lighthouse on the top of my head.

"Frankie? Oh hell no! She's not touching Frankie."

And then Mona flatulated her way into the conversation. "What the fuck? It has a name!"

"Exactly. That's his name. What the Fuck Frankie!"

Apparently she had read about him earlier. Or not. Or maybe heard about him. He is the talk of the town, I've learned. Actually, I just made that up.

"So Mona, next week to get these roots touched up? Think you can gel up Frankie too? He seems a bit flaccid up on top. He could some perking up. How about Tuesday?"

"No. All booked up."

"But I thought…"

"For you, all booked up. And for your little friend too," hissed Mona. "I'm a professional and you don't seem to take hair seriously."

"But I'm a patient here!"

"And I don't have patience for you."

Ouch. Again.

Actually, who could blame her?

"Well, ummmm. So there," I said as I was sucker-punched. "So Nana, are you about ready to go? I'll walk back with you. I've got a get rabies shot in between cocktails and this one is about empty.

"You go ahead," she said." I'll be about an hour or so."

 I'm thinking it'd take Mona at least that long to get Nana's hair back to the whiter shade of pale.

"Here. Take a cannoli with you for later. Think Frankie wants one too?"

"Probably not. He's dieting. But thanks."

"Sure he is, you big mamaluke," shaking her head with an obvious air of dismay.

And as the door was closing I heard what I thought I'd never hear come out of her mouth.

"Frankie. What the fuck? Such a big mameluke," and then with a sigh she added this hug:

"But he's my mameluke. I love him like he's one of my own."

Here at the Chemo Bar and Salon, we meet as strangers and leave as family.

Hey! Want a cannoli?

It was an inch or two before 4:20 a.m. I was awakened by the bleating of a text alert.

It was my friend Megan, a sainted do-gooder if ever there was one.

"Hi!!! I have a HUGE favor to ask....We have a guy
who was just admitted to hospice with just weeks to live and his dying
wish is to get married. Im going to make this happen. Can you help with
photos?"

A second text blurted in before I was finished with the first.

 "Well?"

"A wedding? Not my thing but sure! How could I say no to you?"

 Ha! You can't! Its tomorrow afternoon at their home. Hes bed bound
but hes leaving the hospital this afternoon. When I know more, you'll
know more.

Two minutes later, another text.

 A heart emoji.

It seems like every single love story eventually gets zigzagged into he said, she saids along the way.

Too many of those stuck in the zigzags never deal with their mess and
end up in a snarly cat fight. Any love thats left begins to drain
away, first as a trickle and ending with one big angry gush until its
gone.

But in the truly passionate ones, whats ziggedy zagged gets straightened out, and the love continues to grow.

 Like Connie's and Ronnie's.

He said: "It was love at first sight."

She said: "Like hell. It was more like love after your fourth beer. I
saw him looking at me from the minute he sat down. If he hadn't have
been so damn shy, we could have had the whole night together. I was
going to go over and say hi to him but a proper lady wouldn't do that. I
may not be proper but I AM a lady."

And so this love story began up at the Eagles Club where many matches
are made and many more hearts broken…often in a single night.

Although from the sounds of it, this love story almost didn't begin:
he was painfully bashful; and she apparently, was a lady. It took its own
sweet time. It just had to simmer a bit.

And it finally did about seven years ago.

Ronnie was a tire builder. The size of grizzly with a teddy bear
demeanor. Quiet, private and seemed to keep people always at least one
bar stool away. Never married and never much thought about it. He kept
to himself and seemed content to living his life alone.

But there was something about Connie.

She had worked the same job she had since high school. Basically
running a small business as her own since her boss had died and his
know-nothing son Paulie the Pig, as he was called for his style of
eating and views of women, took charge and did nothing more than to
figure out what he wanted for lunch and to have Connie drop what she was
doing to call in the order and then go fetch it like the service dog he
thought she was.

One day she was heading to Smitty's Tenderloins to pick up a "King Chili-Cheese
Tenderloin with ketchup and no onions; a box of half French fries, half
onion rings; and a lettuce salad with lo-cal Italian. Hey I'm trying to
eat more healthy,­" he grunted.

No sooner had she had brought the food back and slopped the pigs
trough, she heard him squeal from his office, "God damn it Connie! I
wanted ketchup and I got no ketchup. I said no onions and I got onions.
What the hell is this? You gotta go back and make this right. God damn
it Connie! Pay attention!"

"Sure boss. Sorry. I'm on it."

She went to her desk and packed up her things, took her employee of
the year plaques of the wall, stormed out and slammed the door,
hesitating just long enough to hear Paulie the Pig oink one last time,
"God damn it Connie!!"

And she never went back.

Short in stature, long on living life very loud. Fun and fun loving.
Calling it as she saw it and, in her own words, could give a good God
damn if you agreed with me or not. Twice married. Once widowed, once
divorced. Bitterly.

"What the hell was I thinking? That miserable son of a bitch. What the hell was I thinking? Never again."

But there was something about Ronnie.

If ever there was a love story, this was it but was going nowhere
fast. Hell, it wasn't even a sentence on a page. Yet. But it seemed like
it was just begging to be.

Maybe it was that fourth beer.

Crawling out of his place at the end of the bar out of his shell,
Ronnie swerved stepped his way to the bathroom somewhat in time to
whatever was on the jukebox at the time and trying to sing along
just loud enough for Connie to hear. It made her smile. He didn't get
one word right.

On his way back to his perch, he stopped briefly and abruptly veered with aforethought over to Connie.

 Bry you a breer? Connie was right. Its that fourth one that loosens his tongue and the rest of him. Every time.

Knowing full well what he was trying to say, but Connie being Connie bruskly replied, "Say that again. I didn't understand a word you said. And if youre asking me to go home with you tonight, there's no way in
hell. I don't even know your name!"

Ronnie apparently turned all shades of embarrassment crimson and then suddenly bleached out to driven-snow white. He was jaw-dropped  speechless and eyes-the-size-of-hubcaps aghast.

"Sorry," she said.  "Just giving you a hard time. A beer? I'd love one. My name is Connie.

What's yours? And its about damn time! I've been hoping you'd ask all night."

His big goofy grin brightened the bar. "Really? You have? Well okay, I'm Ronni

And so it began. Jittery at best, but the love story began. Finally.

And after six months, Ronnie moved in with Connie and her teenage
daughter. And, according to all of them, they lived happily together for
the last seven years.

Back up to the Eagles one Wednesday night, for two-for-one beer-and-a-shot and steaks for $7.50 that are every bit as tough as you would expect them to be---but with enough cocktailing and A-1 you'd
never notice. Besides, they came with a foil-wrapped baked potato with a fist-sized wad of butter and a plop of sour cream with a sprinkling of two or three bits of chives. Its a good deal even if the food isn't. Fine
dining? Oh hell no. Fine drinks? Oh my yes. And up here, that's all that matters.

Ronnie was fidgety that night. More than usual. Midway through his
fourth beer and a shot, he headed into the bathroom but came right out.

"Forget something?" Connie asked.

"I did," and he dropped to one knee on the barroom floor that probably hadn't felt the tender swoosh of  a broom in years.

"Lose something?"

"Nope. And I dont want to lose you. Marry me," and slid a diamond ring on her finger.

"Excuse me? What the hell is this?"

"Marry me."

"What?"

"Will you please marry me?"

"Are you begging me?"

'Well if I have to."

"You don't. Yes!"

"Yes what?"

'YES! I'll marry you."

So much hugging and kissing. So many tears. So many drinks on the
house. They asked for their steaks and potatoes to go. Arms around each other's shoulder they floated on a cloud of love to Ronnie's pickup with styrofoam containers in hand. Never mind the napkin wrapped Plasti-Ware fell off unnoticed long before they got outside.

And the next chapter in this love story began.

A couple of weeks later, Ronnie wasn't feeling well. He did what he always did. A couple of aspirin, a handful of Tums and a Pepsi. It wasn't working.  Never the picture of good health and but never one to
worry about it, he just laid down in the bedroom waiting to feel better. No point in telling Connie. Why worry her over nothing?

His idea of nothing turned about to be a big something.

Late that night, they went to the emergency room. Chest pains. And
then they found out he had cancer. Stage 4 and it had already spread
from his brain. It wasn't good.

The hospital called in hospice. Hospice called in my friend Megan to meet with them.

While getting acquainted, Ronnie told her they had just got engaged. Connie tearfully showed
off showed off her ring. "I guess we'll never be able to get married now."

Megan's first thought almost out loud: "Like hell you won't," but it
came out more appropriate, "Oh yes you will. You most certainly will.
I'll make sure of that."

Planning a wedding was a path well-worn for her. She had been working on her own for a month.

Being that it was well past midnight, all Megan could do was to make a list. First getting them officially and legally married at the hospital which required a license and that involved meeting with a judge to waive the
three-day waiting period and then rounding up someone to officiate. 

Then! To have another ceremony at their home the next day for family and friends and that would require ambulance service, a hospital bed to be brought in, a nurse, an oxygen tank and various equipment, a patient
release from hospital, a cake, flowers, a few decorations, a photographer, and someone to preside over this ceremony.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

So when dawn dawned, she started. First with my text, knowing full well she could wake me up without any consequence, at least none that meant anything.

About six hours after that first one, Megan texted me another.

"So many tears! The official legal wedding is set for noon today! Everything is set to for tomorrow at 4 p.m.!! When I was telling Ronnie how his wish was going to happen, he opened his eyes for the first
time all day and smiled a smile of sheer serenity. Then he reached for my hand and gave it a big squeeze."

End of text. Barely a second later: "I'll be there hopefully around 3:30!! I have a 100th birthday party I'm putting on right before!"

Of course she did.

It was small house. Split level with a staircase that was a straight  shot from the front door up to the kitchen and dining area where the ceremony was to take place. The dining room table and chairs were shoved off to the side to make room for the hospital bed where Ronnie was peacefully resting. He had such a look of contentment. Connie was off to his right, holding his hand gently. She was trying to fight back tears but without much luck. A group of about 12 crowded around the bed. The ceremony was quite short. Vows were exchanged the best they could be.

And then, it was time for the rings. Connie's engagement ring became her wedding ring but she gasped. She didn't have one for Ronnie.

"Not to worry, I'll get one," said the always optimistic MJ.

She dug through a bowl of keepsakes in the kitchen and found Ronnie's high school ring.

"How about this?"

Connie slid it on his ring finger. At least as far as it would go which wasn't very far but far enough to make the point.

The chaplain pronounced them husband and wife. They kissed. And cried. And kissed again.

They signed what needed to be signed. They cut the cake. They fed each other cake. And kissed again with puckered smiles full of frosting.

There was some applause and cheers. And lots of tears.

After the crowd left, Connie was still by Ronnie's side holding his hand tightly never wanting to let go. She leaned over to kiss him.

"We're married,"she whispered in his ear.

With eyes closed, his grin transformed into a full-fledged, double-wide Cheshire cat smile that beamed brightly with happiness and love through his tears.

A miracle happened that day and their love story began a new chapter.

The next week, I got a text from Megan.

 "Ronnie died early today. I knew you'd want to know."

Maybe 10 seconds later, another text from her:

A crying face emoji, two heart emojis and the toasting champagne glasses.

For Connie and Ronnie. If ever there was love story…


© Andy Lyons. All Rights Reserved.