Things to Say to Your Husband After His Cancer Comes Back

by Shannon Frost Greenstein


Don’t worry. Everything will be fi….


your voice will catch, your words like butterflies in a net, and when the sun streams through the

honeycomb fibers like a fake promise, it will be almost like they’ve escaped, like they’re out and

free and you know exactly what to say in this terrible moment of mortal terror, except they’re

actually still caught in the net so instead you have to try again.


We’ll get through this! Our marriage is so strong and I…


you will fail to finish this, because you are a weakling, a coward, the smallest kitten in the pile,

scared, skittish, selfish, squeamish, sheltered, shallow, your strength of will and will to power

trembling before such a Nietzschean challenge, and you will suddenly feel very small and you

will suddenly have a flash of insight and you will suddenly know only love; suddenly all you

will possess is love, just this one thing that is everything and the only thing.


You’ll see the kids graduate. I promis…


only maybe he won’t, and the possibility, birthed into immediate existence by your rogue

thought, will loom in your brain like the 2004 Indonesian Tidal Wave, infinite quantum

possibilities crashing onto the shore of your neocortex, birthdays and anniversaries and Saturday

mornings and all of them only possible with him; your very lifeblood linked to his, your

existence contingent upon his physical presence in your immediate sphere, and you will drown in

all the theoretical promises of life without him, unable to understand such a thing as his absence,

until you can’t find anything to say at all.


Shannon Frost Greenstein resides in Philadelphia with her children, soulmate, and persnickety cats. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, a Contributing Editor for Barren Magazine, and a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy. Shannon was awarded a writing residency through Sundress Academy for the Arts in October 2019. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Crab Fat Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, Bone & Ink Lit Zine, Spelk Fiction, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @mrsgreenstein or her website: She comes up when you Google her.


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