All it took was a moment.

When she’d walked in the room, she’d been fine. Hopeful, even. She hadn’t stopped herself from thinking that maybe today he would say what she had desperately wanted to hear for months.

She stares at him, at this man who had brought her world crashing down around her.

He’s sorry. So sorry.

She hears the apology, knows he means it. But it doesn’t change anything.

He keeps talking, but she doesn’t fully comprehend the words. They’re technical, clinical. Compassion and business all mixed into one monstrous tidal wave washing over her. It leaves her choking on her own breath. She needs air.

But she can’t leave. Not yet.

She should have brought her son. He’s studying this sort of thing. He would understand what the doctor is saying.

Oh, God. How is she going to tell her son? He already lost his father to this damn disease. How is he going to handle losing her, too?

Three months, the doctor says. Maybe six.

That’s it? She was supposed to have forty years left. How could she possibly fit forty years into three months?

She was supposed to be healthy, dammit. She did the chemo, she took the pills. She gave up her hair, her appetite, her life. They were supposed to be temporary sacrifices. She was supposed to get them back.

This isn’t how it was supposed to go. The words tumble out of her, tripping up the doctor’s explanation.

His shoulders drop and he gives her a meek smile. He knows.

She pulls her bottom lip between her teeth and closes her eyes. Tears push against her eyelids, but she isn’t ready to let them fall yet. Crying would mean accepting. And she can’t do that. Not yet.

He starts talking again. He brings up palliative care.

No. She shakes her head, pain throbbing through it with each swipe. Not yet.

She still has three months. Maybe six. And she’s going to live them.