Chocolate Cake for Diane

I asked her what she wanted most. I didn’t need to explain. The time for explanations and contingencies had passed. I sat as close to her as I could, careful not to put pressure on the tubes taped down at her wrist, bruised and thin as a bird’s, or to knock the elevated table holding a paper cup of chipped ice: the only thing left that she could ingest, even that not always successfully. December would arrive that week, and Diane had not eaten since early October. After nearly four years of hard fighting, her cancer had finally won. Diane’s husband, Carl, had told me on the phone the night before that it was a matter of weeks. Even so, consummate hostess that she’d always been, when I walked into her hospital room that morning Diane offered me a cup of chipped ice of my own.

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