Courage (part one)


Corridor. danie; CC BY

“Do you know why you’re here?” the doctor asked.

When doctors don’t smile, the conversation isn’t going to be good.

My husband, pale but resolute, nodded his head.

Ocular melanoma. We’d never heard of it before.

It’s rare.

He had a freckle on his retina near the optic nerve in his left eye. Probably a birthmark, the optometrist said. We’ll just watch it.

They watched it for six years.

It was growing now, spreading, causing light flashes, changing color, leaking fluid.

The retina specialist looked grim. Maybe a radiation chip could be applied to slow the growth of this thing, but it would still be there. The sclera would have to be cut and peeled up for the chip, which would stay in for seven days.

The research hospital wanted to wait and see what the tumor – not a freckle anymore, but the tumor – would do.

Everything we read online about ocular melanoma said Do not wait. 

There is no cure.

The cancer doctor we consulted said, By the time it’s found, it’s usually metastasized.  Radiation and chemotherapy have no effect. It’s nasty.

My husband looked at me. I could see myself reflected his big, beautiful brown eyes.

He said:

“I want the eye out. As soon as possible.”

The optic nerve is connected to the brain, you see, and the pictures showed the lesion -the tumor – reaching for the optic nerve like a hand reaching for a piece of savory fruit, for juicing.

“Okay,” I said, without even blinking.

We found a surgeon, a highly respected one,  who agreed. “I have to tell you enucleation is an easy surgery to perform, but it’s an extremely painful recovery.”

My husband said: “Let’s do it.”

On the night before the surgery, I kissed his left eyelid. It was the last thing, the only thing, I could do for that beautiful eye which would be no more.

It was a long wait at the hospital. When the orderlies finally came, my husband’s sister, our niece and I told him we loved him, kissed him good-bye. As the gurney rolled down the hallway he was sitting up in his gown, waving at us, grinning from ear to ear in his usual gregarious way.

He knew he would come out of there without an eye, that the recovery would be rough, and he was smiling.

That’s profound courage, I thought. The bravest thing I’ve ever seen. 

I waved back, tears blurring my vision, until he vanished from my sight.

(To be continued tomorrow).

slice-of-life_individualEarly Morning Slicer


34 thoughts on “Courage (part one)

  1. It’s hard to know how to comment, Fran, except to say that his bravery comes through in your words and your love. It must be a difficult time for both of you. Sending positive thoughts your way, and his way, on the surgery and the recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kevin. It was one of our darkest times – a year of uncharted territory. I’ll finish the story tomorrow – too big for one slice. All is well and deepest thanks for your words.


  2. The way you’ve emphasized the positives in a very difficult time is absolutely amazing (I read the previous comments and thank you for the relief of knowing that things are ok now). Your words and the emotions behind them make this story absolutely incredible. We never know how much courage we actually have (or those we love have) until we’re called upon to use it, do we? I admire you for sharing this difficult piece of your life with us–I look forward to reading the rest of your story tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a pretty big, recent slice of my life. I debated with myself about posting it and decided I needed to, for my own frame of mind and because it’s a story that should be shared. It all happened so fast. Maybe it will help others. I realized from comments that I needed to say there’s a good ending! Thank you so much for your caring reply! I am grateful for your words here.


  3. Wow. Your husband sounds like an amazingly strong man.

    They often say we don’t know how courageous or strong we can be until we have to,, and this is probably a good example of that.

    Looking forward to hearing the rest of the story tomorrow. Thanks for hinting that things have improved since then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He is much stronger than I realized, as well as an inspiration! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. Yes, after the first few comments I could not leave all you dear people hanging. 🙂


    • Thank you, Katie. I felt I had to say good-bye to the eye, somehow, as I’d never see it again. It’s hard to capture in words! I so appreciate your reading and your thoughts. We are well.


  4. I am looking forward to reading part two. And I am glad I read the comments and discovered that there has been healing. You both sound so courageous and strong. I think that honest vulnerable slices like this are the bravest kind of writing ever. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lisa – – things happened so quickly and all seemed so surreal; it was almost too much to process at the time, knowing time wasn’t in our favor. I believe in facing things for what they are but have never witnessed a greater example. I am so proud of his courage. Thank you for reading and for these words of support!


  5. I love the first few lines to this piece, the hook, the dread in the first few, the way you mixed shorter and longer sentences to add tone. The kiss to your husband’s eyelid, his smile at your family as he was wheeled into surgery-demonstrate the love you feel and the courage needed to live through it. Thanks for your writing. Best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Maribeth, for reading and letting me know specifically what struck a chord with you. Yes, there was dread and a feeling of disbelief at what we were suddenly facing. Whatever it was, we would go through it together – and we have come out on the other side. So glad that you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You both showed such strength and courage. Him in the decision and you in waving as he said goodbye. Thank you for letting us in to share in your story. Your husband is the 2nd person I’ve heard have this in the last 2 months. The other was a sweet, little 2 year old who also lost her eye. I’m looking forward to the rest of your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is strange how we, too, have encountered others in this situation, unusual as it is. We’ve been amazed by the encouragement those people have given. Many prayers for the precious little one and her family – that is heartbreaking. And thank you so much for reading and responding.


  7. I need to reread this post and read more of your blog.
    My husband was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2016.
    I was scrolling through after reading Leigh Anne’s post about you (beautiful).
    This post stood out quickly when I saw those words.
    I wrote about the journey but shared it weeks after.
    Thinking of you, Fran.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Loralee – how are things with you and your husband? I could not write about the surgery until a more than year afterward. Needed some distance from it, because all happened so quickly that it seemed a blur. I am glad to find you here and am deeply grateful for your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I had stopped part way through because I was taken aback by you hearing the same diagnosis we did.

    Tears as I went back and read what happened next.

    So brave.

    I don’t know how to say what I want to say.

    Liked by 1 person

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