Charles left the doctor’s surgery with mixed feelings. The final results of the tests, after months of treatment for his cancer brought no good results. The illness was on an uncontrollable walk in his body. As soon as one part looked like it was healing, it had spread to another. He told the doctor he wanted to know the truth. His body and mind were finished with talks around the truth, hiding the real facts in meaningless words, and trying a new treatment that might work. He knew that there was no way out any more and when the doctor came with another suggestion, Charles told him to tell him the truth.
“We could perhaps try.......”
“No doctor, we are not trying anything more and if we do what is the result. I want to know the truth. Is it just life prolonging for a few months more or could it be a cure.”
“Mr. French, there is no cure for the sort of cancer you have. I am sorry.”
“Thank you doctor; that is all I wanted to know. Now please tell me what I can do for the last few months of my life to perhaps help with the pain.”
Mr. French, you have perhaps another four weeks to live without any further assistance.”
“And with assistance?”
“A few months at the most. Please continue taking the tablets, it will help with the pain.”
“On the walk home, many thoughts went through his head. How can I say it to Mary, shall I tell Mary? She has been giving me all her time and energy to help. The sleepless nights she has suffered, and now this. The end will not be nice and I just don’t want her to suffer any more. What can I do?”
With these thoughts circling in his mind he arrived home. Mary was waiting for him.
“How did it go Charles?”
Charles had a knot in his stomach, thinking what would be the right answer. “Shall I tell her, or not?”
“Oh, you know, the usual answers, the same old routine. The doctor said I can leave the therapy for a time. Just take the tablets if I get any pain, and in a couple of months I have to go back.”
Charles did not like lying to his wife, but he just could not tell her the truth at the moment. He had to think things over himself. He knew Mary would be relieved to hear that the therapy would be put on one side for a while. He never felt very good during the days when he had to undergo chemotherapy and it was a stress for her. The next day Mary went shopping and he stayed at home. It was then that he made a decision. A decision that was not easy.
He went to the attic and found the old rucksack he used when he and Mary went on holiday. They loved to go hiking in the mountains in summer. Usually they would rent a mountain hut somewhere and go on tours together, savouring the country air. He opened the rucksack and packed a few items of clothes, just for rough living. His old blue jeans, two or three shirts and underwear, although he asked for what he needed so much underwear, it really does not matter. He packed a few items of food, mostly preserves or tinned and left the house. He needed no water, there would be fresh water from a mountain stream somewhere. Before going he sat down at the dinner table and wrote a letter for Mary.
I love you with all my heart and have always loved you and it hurts me so to write this letter, but I cannot lie to you after all we have gone through together. I lied to you yesterday when I returned from the doctor. Please forgive me, it was cowardly, but I just could not look you in the face and tell you the truth. I have only a short time to live and I do not want you to suffer any more than you already have watching me waste away day for day. I know you say this is rubbish, and we have always found a way together, but there is no way left. I have made a decision, not an easy one, and I can only ask you to please respect the decision I have made.
When you find this letter, I will no longer be at home. I have decided to spend the little time I have left in our beloved mountains amongst the trees and green slopes where we shared so many happy memories. I will think of you every day. Please be strong. There is no point in trying to find me; I don’t know myself yet which direction I will take.
Please hold me in your thoughts and your mind. Your ever loving Charles.
My love for you will never die.”
Charles looked back on his home with a heavy heart one last time and loaded with his rucksack made his way to the local railway station, taking the train heading north to the mountains.
The Daily News, 16th August, 2008
Man found in Mountain hut
The remains of the missing Charles French have now been found after a one month search. His wife alarmed the police a day after his disappearance. He died under normal circumstances and there was no foul play involved. He was suffering from an incurable illness and it was his wish to die alone in the mountains. We would convey our deepest sympathies to his wife and family on this grevious loss.
Extract from last page of diary written by Charles French
My time is getting short, the pains are getting worse and the medicine I took with me no longer helps. Mary I have thought of you every day, please forgive me, but it is better this way. I can no longer take any walks, but the view from the window of the hut where I am is beautiful. I see the sun setting every evening on the mountains, and I could not think of a better way to say goodbye to the world.
Writing Prompt #19: What to do, What to do?