|Love Conquers All - Chapter 1
Regardless of the pain, insecurity, or weakness, music has a way of soothing the soul. Lynn Williams knew this firsthand. She was a pro at overriding innermost thoughts with bass and beats. Tonight was no different. She styled an afro, large hoop earrings, and a blouse tied at her waist with black shorts, while her husband, Chris rocked bell-bottoms and a red silk shirt. They sang aloud, grooving to Anita Ward’s classic hit, “Ring My Bell.”
When the song ended, she raved about their private disco, and he agreed before commenting on how beautiful she looked in the 1970’s attire. Lynn blushed, then sauntered away switching the playlist from Disco to Slow Jams. After lowering the volume she danced toward him, twirled, and wiggled her backside. Chris held her close, and they moved in unison—until he groped her breasts. “Babe…what are you doing?” she asked, facing him in a single motion.
“Oh, I forgot. I’m sorry. I was caught up in the moment,” he said, grabbing her hand.
Lynn pushed him aside. She plopped on the bed, pouting as he kneeled before her apologizing empathically. His words went in one ear and out the other. Her mind stayed on the lump in her left breast, which he’d reminded her was tender to touch. Two weeks and four days had passed since she’d discovered the mass. Until that moment, she was certain it would’ve disappeared.
By this point, Lynn had completely tuned out the sound of Atlantic Star’s “Secret Lovers” playing in the background. She grew concerned about her family’s history. It was common knowledge that most women in her mother’s lineage had fibrocystic breasts, characterized by small masses or cysts developing in the breast tissue. Although the condition didn’t increase the risk, cancer was common among them. Her grandmother had had a mastectomy at the age of forty-eight and two of her aunts were diagnosed in their thirties—one survived and the other learned her status too late. She passed away less than three months later.
To counter the humongous knot constricting her throat, Lynn squeezed her eyes shut and took in a deep breath, slowly exhaling. As she reopened them, Chris clicked on the antique lamp atop the nightstand. He unplugged the strobe light then pulled her into a loving embrace. In his arms she felt safe.
“It’s time for a checkup,” he said. “For peace of mind you have to see your doctor.”
Lynn swallowed hard. “I know,” she replied. “I’ll call on Monday to schedule an appointment.”
Chris leaned back, looking her directly in the eye. “You’re fine,” he said. “You’re fine.”
With pursed lips, she rested her head against his shoulder fearing the worse. Despite the optimism and hope, she knew the finding could be serious—very serious. Witnessing others, beyond family affected by breast cancer left no illusion. Some had survived, but many had not.
Disbelief consumed Lynn, making her weak and nauseous. She released Chris and lowered herself back onto the bed attempting to be calm, but her thoughts rambled miles per minute leaving a sour puddle in the pit of her stomach. She hated when life threw curve balls. Especially the ones of which you had no control.
Finally, after drinking a cup of hot tea she took heed to Chris’ advice to try and rest. As they snuggled in silence, she prayed. Despite the guilt of how like many others she failed to devote time to God on a consistent basis she begged for His grace and mercy the instant something went wrong—or had a tendency to. She was grateful though that God was God—a spiritual being, not carnal like the ordinary person who’d reluctantly drive her to a corner store without wanting gas money. A healing or constant forgiveness would surely be too much to ask.
Eventually, she dozed off. Naturally, her first thought the next morning was the lump. She massaged her breast lightly hoping it was gone. Unfortunately, the mass remained. Gently, Lynn kneaded what felt like a hardened clump of tissue cells, thinking of how for years she’d performed monthly breast exams and never noticed anything more than small nodules that had vanished within a day or two. As a result, she became inconsistent and had finally stopped doing them. Why? She wondered. Why did I stop? Why would I stop? Knowing my family history, why would I stop?
So much time had passed she couldn’t remember her last exam. It had to be at least two or three years. She shook her head, disappointed for not staying committed. She acknowledged part of the reason may have been her age. No one in the family had been affected in their twenties. Now, the naïve thinking had the potential to come back and haunt her. I would be the one setting a new record for something negative, she thought.
During a brief pity party, her heart grew hardened, and the infamous question of all victims—Why me?—raddled her brain, producing anger. She shook her head and rolled her eyes, becoming madder by the moment. However, aware that that mindset was dangerous, she quickly snapped out of the daze, realizing it wasn’t smart to have an attitude or question God while praying for His blessings. Along with the fact she hadn’t been diagnosed with anything. Come on, girl. Pull yourself together. You’re making more out of this than you should.
Shaking off negativity, she eased out of bed and headed for the bathroom to freshen up. After splashing her face with warm water and drying it, she grabbed her electric toothbrush, squeezed toothpaste on it then stared blankly, moving it around her mouth. She rinsed then focused on her reflection in the mirror. Again she encouraged herself. “This is just a wakeup call. No more skipping exams,” she said, forcing a smile.
Shortly after, she joined Chris in the kitchen. “Good morning. You’re up early,” she said, glancing at the coo-coo clock hanging on the wall.
“Morning,” he replied. “Actually, I am…all because I have the honor of preparing breakfast for the world’s number-one wife. How cool is that?”
Lynn gave him a yeah, right look.
“What?” He kissed her lips. “How are you feeling?”
“Better now,” she said.
“Good. I hope you’re hungry. Breakfast will be ready in a few.” Chris poured her a cup of coffee.
“Thanks, babe,” she said.
As Lynn added French vanilla creamer and a tad of sugar to her drink, her mind drifted to the girls—Angel Wesley, Kim McKenzie, Michelle Spencer, and Wanda Boyd. They’d all encountered serious challenges within the last year.
In the midst of Angel coping and assisting her mother, Mrs. Wesley after a lupus diagnosis, she found out she was pregnant. Unlike the first pregnancy, she was often ill. The infamous morning sickness lasted well into the afternoon—daily. To manage the nausea, Angel broke the pill her physician prescribed into halves. She took one with breakfast and the other at lunch just to make it through the day. Luckily, the strategy was working because her husband, Derrick had been gone a lot pursuing business opportunities with other real estate investors, looking to add upscale commercial properties to their portfolio.
Along with an inability to focus and the lack of discipline needed to complete a book, Kim felt like a referee in the stand-off between her husband, Deacon Leon Hardy, and his lesbian daughter, Courtney. Her attempts to bridge their relationship weren’t working. Leon, a firm and hardcore Bible believer, stayed adamant her lifestyle choice was wrong. Courtney disagreed wholeheartedly and seemingly went out of her way to spite him with tattoos and body piercings. Kim insisted on prayer changing things. She saw how much Leon loved both of his children and how heartbroken he’d been by his only daughter.
Meanwhile, Michelle remained on a self-improvement journey. She sought strength and peace, while adapting to life without the wonderful, secure marriage with Kelvin she’d been accustomed to. She’d allowed motherhood—what should’ve warranted natural affection—to completely ruin their marriage. Instead of addressing the maternal weaknesses and consulting her husband, she’d attempted to escape by seeking solace in a bottle of pain pills. Looking back the mistakes were clear. She’d failed to put forth the effort needed to preserve the family. Not doing so would haunt her for an eternity. Now, her reality was her fault, and she had to own it.
Although the girls had remained very important parts of her life and provided a great support system, she spent a lot of time at church and attended weekly Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Day by day she strived to become a better and stronger person for herself and others.
Wanda’s life had taken the most drastic turn. Losing both her mother and grandmother within three months inflicted critical wounds to her soul. The flamboyant, arrogant, and outspoken Wanda was gone. She became deflated. Blaming her dad for leading her mom on and causing her suicide drained her even more because she loved him so much. Dealing with those feelings while appearing strong for her siblings, proved to be difficult. And knowing her brother Tony, nor her sister, Tina faulted their dad like she did, felt like betrayal. Their relationships had suffered greatly as a result. Wanda withdrew and only communicated with her siblings when necessary. Her boyfriend, Patrick was a judge so his experience of being level headed and fair made it easy to challenge her stubbornness towards them in a loving way.
With everyone having so much going on already, Lynn hesitated sharing her situation. On one hand, she felt it may be better to keep quiet until she knew whether the lump was cancerous or not. On the other, she wanted her friends to be involved. She needed their prayers, support, and strength. “I have to tell them,” she concluded.
Her eyes stung at a vivid picture of their days as young girls washed away, replaced with adult concerns, responsibility, and now the onset of health issues. She remembered her mother saying “a lot more comes with being a grownup than you think.”
Lynn reflected on that statement and how right she was. Lord, have mercy. She’d said a mouthful. Speaking the gospel, warning her child to slow down and not rush adolescence, which she’d done anyhow. Now, all of her innocence had passed, and she was there in the moment experiencing life without her mother creating magic to make everything better.
Not only had she reached adulthood, she’d approached what she’d always considered a pivotal time—the age of thirty. A great opportunity to reflect, evaluate accomplishments, failures, and a chance to consider change or going in a new direction. Acknowledging the milestone, she began to assess her progress. Her first thought was the day care. Being owner of a popular and successful facility had definitely been rewarding. She and Michelle strived to be the best day care in Savannah. Even after Michelle’s decision to sell her ownership while pregnant with Kelvin Jr., the business continued to function at or close to one hundred percent occupancy at all times. Now, her desire to reinvest made Lynn’s heart smile. She loved their partnership and was anxious to be co-owners again.
A wonderful marriage had also been a luxury. Despite the taboo of police officers and Chris feeding into the stereotype before they wed, she loved her husband wholeheartedly. He kept the relationship exciting by spoiling her rotten.
Unfortunately, they still didn’t have the family she so desperately wanted. She wanted at least three children to make her immaculate and artfully decorated house a home. Each of their personalities would fill the space with love and laughter while creating priceless memories, as she instilled in them morals and values. Her hopes to inspire their minds to be great and groom them to impact the world in profound ways lay deep within. She needed…and she depended on these things coming true, but suddenly a chill zipped from the top of her head to the soles of her feet forcing Lynn to admit the time for those dreams to be realized was dwindling. She and Chris had been trying to get pregnant for six years, but nothing came of it. Not one pregnancy.As she pondered the possibility of infertility, tears rolled from her sad eyes, stoking the hidden pain, insecurity, and weakness that caused her to focus on conceiving every time she made love to her husband. He had no idea of the battle going on in her mind, and she wanted it that way. Undoubtedly many things had gone well, but her heart’s greatest desire had not. I will never feel complete without a child of my own. God, I need You to fix this—somehow—some way—and soon. I can’t accept anything less.