BY: Vince and Rebecca Yauger
"I don't think I can do this anymore."
My wife looked at me through huge brown eyes, rapidly filling with tears.
"Yes, you can. You only have five more radiation treatments to go."
I held her close, stroking her hair. She huddled deeper under the covers and relaxed in my arms.
Ever since the breast cancer diagnosis, she had tried so hard to be strong. I know she wanted to be strong for the kids and for me.
I had lost my first wife in a car accident and was happy to have taken another chance on love by marrying Becky, my high school sweetheart. When her diagnosis came, my first thought was, there was no way I could go through this again, no way could I lose another wife. Becky knew this. The doctors assured us we had caught the cancer early so we were feeling positive.
We managed to get through her lumpectomy and the recovery from that. After six weeks of radiation, Becky was facing her final five treatments. She was weak, fatigued, and couldn't find her usual fighting spirit. It angered me to see her suffering and burrowing under the covers on a beautiful Labor Day weekend. I felt so helpless and powerless. Once Becky assured me she was okay, I left her to rest.
I went outside. Always one to have a project going, I decided to tackle the front porch. There was wood rot, and some areas that needed to be replaced. As I got outside, long-held frustration and anger erupted in me like a volcano. I took a sledgehammer and suddenly was swinging as hard as I could, pounding and banging on the porch.
I imagined the splintering of wood to be the splintering of my wife's cancer. I couldn't tear the cancer from my wife's body, but I could ravage our front porch, imagining that with every bit of wood I smashed, I was smashing cancer.
With all my might, I pulverized the column that held the porch overhang.
Throughout this whole cancer ordeal, my wife had been very brave. She said she had it easy, because she didn't have to go through chemotherapy.
Looking at Becky today, I don't think it was easy. I felt inadequate at the time because I couldn't fix it. I had to give up control to doctors, surgeons, radiologists, and God. I tried to be strong for her, until that day when she folded and I finally blew.
A while later, I saw her standing at the window, shaking her head. The front porch was gone. I came into the house and walked into our bedroom, not knowing how she would react to the havoc I had wreaked in front of our house.
"Becky, you aren't mad at me, are you?"
She looked at me in surprise. "Mad at you? For what?"
I pointed out the front window. "For tearing down the porch."
She laughed. "Look how sunny this room is now. I love that it's brighter in here."
I was relieved and embraced her, grateful to hear laughter.
"Vince, can I ask you one thing?"
Becky looked at me, still holding on to my hands.
"Why did you tear it down?"
"Well, I couldn't tear the cancer out of you, so I tore down the porch instead."
"Do you feel better?" She asked, crying what seemed to be happy tears.
"Yeah, I think I do." I shrugged my shoulders but grinned at her.
"Thanks, honey, for tearing down the porch."
Becky had a huge smile on her face.
"You comforted me in my darkest hour, Vince, and you found a way to deal with your own frustration. By destroying the porch, you let the sun shine in, and not just into our bedroom."
As I looked around the brightened room that day, I realized the light that filled the space was the light of hope that shines so bright after the darkness.
We never did re-build the porch.