Kathy was shocked by the news and unable to utter a word. Silence fell between them, and a million thoughts ran through Kathy’s head, however only one question was able to come out.
Joey was looking down at her hands and two long tears ran down her face.
-He has a brain tumor.-
-How did you… I mean when did he?-
Kathy lost her voice again. After Michael had told Joey he was dying and explained everything, she had told him that she needed some time for herself, to organize herself. She went for a walk and without knowing ended up at Kathy’s place. As soon as Kathy saw her face she knew something was wrong, but this was the last thing she expected.
-Last night he showed up un my apartment. I was so tired of the whole drama that I did not fight anymore and we spent the night together. What should’ve been the best day of my life turned quickly into my worst nightmare. This morning, he sat me down and told me that he had called the wedding off and broken it with Cindy, but there was something else, you know I could see it in his eyes, so when I asked him he told me that he loved me very much and that he was very sorry. He told me he had a brain tumor and it was inoperable. He had already been to many specialists and they had all told him the same thing, that there was nothing they could do. He could submit himself to some trial medications to see if it worked, but that was his best shot, if he did undergo surgery he had a 0.4% of making it out alive, and with that odds he did not want to risk it.
Kathy sat there staring at Joey; she could barely believe what she was saying. They heard movement on the back and turned, Jack was standing there looking at them with sympathy in his eyes.
It was a statement rather than a question. Kathy looked at him and did not need to hear an answer to know. He had known all along. The one to speak next was Joey, and to everyone’s surprise her voice was calm.
-How come you did not say anything or hint at it?
-Because Michael made me swear. He made me promise him that I would not tell a living soul, not even you, unless anything catastrophic happened. I am so sorry Joey.
-Is there really nothing anyone can do?
-No. He has already tried everything.
Kathy turned to Joey and took her hands in hers.
-How long does he have?
-From what he told me the doctors say he is like a time bomb, it could be anywhere from 3 to 6 months, but they don’t think he will last longer than 6 months.
Joey then turned to Jack
-Why didn’t he tell me sooner?
Jack looked at her and half smiled.
-He hoped he didn’t have to burden you with this. He insisted on the marriage with Cindy because he felt he would be hurting you too much if he gave himself to you and then left you alone. He loves you so much Joey. He hoped he could be out of your hair and set you free for someone, who really deserves you. Or at least that is what he thought. Until a couple of weeks ago, after the night you two spent together, he told me he realized then that he could never do this without you. That he had understood that the only reason he kept on trying was because of you. He really loves you Joey, more than his own life and right now he is scared, really scared.
When Jack finished talking both Kathy and Joey were crying. It took them a while to say anything but when the silence broke Joey’s voice was still calm but somewhat shaking.
-I should go back. I really don’t know how to react to all this, but I know I want to be with him. Now that I know I have a limited time, I want to take advantage of it as much as I can.
-Will you be ok Jo?
-I think so, I will call you later. Bye Jack.
After Joey left silence fell again in the room. Jack not being able to see Kathy like that went to the couch and just hug her.
-It’s not fair Jack, they are finally able to move on, to be happy, and this happens. It is not fair.
-I know. I know.
He was really unable to say anything else, he also thought the same. They just stayed there, holding each other.
Joey got to her house and found Michael sitting on the couch, his elbows on his knees and his hands on his face. He looked so helpless like that. She went over to the couch and sat next to him, not saying anything; she took his hand in hers and whispered in his ear:
-I love you. I really don’t know how we are going to deal with this; all I know is whatever time you have left I will be here with you.
Michael looked up at her and that’s when she noticed he was crying. This was really hurting him and it really was too much for him to deal with alone. She also saw relief in his eyes, he was not alone anymore, and she was with him.
-Are you sure you want to put that there?-
Jack’s voice came from the door to Joey’s apartment that now she and Michael shared. It was Christmas time already and they were putting up the tree; Joey was trying to put on a Christmas ball in a very high place.
-you guys made it!
-We would not miss it for the world- Kathy was coming in now with a bag full of presents. She went straight to her friend and gave her a huge hug.
After that day Kathy had realized that no matter how much Jack had hurt her in the past she loved him too much and needed to be with him. He still had not explained why he had left, but she felt she no longer needed to know. So they had started going out again and it had been a wonderful month.
-So where is my brother from another mother-?
-Here I am!- Michael came from one of the rooms, he looked good. Somehow acknowledging his feelings for Joey and living with her had made him in a way healthier, happier. And the love between the two of them could not be more noticeable, just like between Jack and Kathy. They were a true family and that night they were celebrating that.
-So what are we having for dinner Jo?-
-It is so like you Kat to always ask for food, but if you must know we are having a true Dominican meal, roast pork, white rice, green salad, green beans with coconut, and just for you, your platanos al caldero.- Joey and the guys were smiling and in Kathy’s eyes there was a gleam.
-Is the food ready yet?-
-Maybe... hungry dear?- Michael was now teasing her.
-If you know what’s good for you brother, you will not tease this woman when she is hungry.-
-Well in that case, why don’t you all join me at the table and we get this thing started?
They sat down in the table and Michael was the one who proceeded to say Grace. After he was done they all started to eat. Kathy was the one who enjoyed the meal the most, like always when it came to food. It was indeed a great night for them. Michael offered to clear the table while Joey, Kathy and Jack finished putting up the tree. They were in the living room when they heard something break and ran to the kitchen; Michael was laying on the floor unconscious.