15th

Alma sat quietly tears running down her cheeks as TJ and Sam entered the room.  On either side of her chair were her two son’s kneeling.  Holding her hands, rubbing her back.  trying the best they could to comfort their mother, not ready to face the reality of their own loss.
Looking up to see the two enter solemnly, Alma smiled.  She took a sharp breath.
“Well, Harlan will be in good hands I see.  I suppose you would like for us to leave?”
“Well, now, Miss Alma, we are going to do this however you want.”
TJ shut the door and nodded to Sam.  They weren’t in any hurry to rush this.  Harlan had been mayor for many years before he retired to just preaching.   His last term, when he announced he was not seeking re-election there was a disappointment.  Harlan had made a decision that saving souls were more important than running a town. Though people still went to him for advice, politically, dealing with the local government and spiritually.  That had always been, but now it would no longer.
Alma and Harlan had decided when his first diagnosis of cancer to keep that to themselves.  His last term had just begun. The reaction created by his diagnosis would have stirred up an already tumultuous time for city government.  Harlan knew then that he would no longer remain in politics.  In his eyes, while the decision was a personal one, and the right thing to do, it was morally a lie of omission.
The treatments had been hard on both of them, Alma recalled, looking at the lifeless body of the man she had been a partner to for sixty years.  It wasn’t as if she hadn’t considered losing him.  First the cancer, then the treatments that weakened him.  Leaving office had lifted his spirits and health back. Last year, the cancer came back. They had done this before, and truth be told, it was both easier and harder than the first.  The first time no one other than the doctors and themselves knew locally.  So they had help they hadn’t at first, which was good.
The bad was the looks and the voices. They hadn’t had to listen to so many stories about how this or that had happened to this person or that person. The stories got on Alma’s nerves.  She knew it wasn’t how people expected her to be.  Alma, a sweet woman all her life, found that this time, she got mean. Ugly even.
How dare this cancer come threaten her life again.  Torment her heart, make her watch as it destroyed the man she loved so much.  It was not fair.  Now it had won.

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