I’m a woman in my 40s living in Louisiana. I’m the eldest daughter from a poor family. Because we were poor, I couldn’t go to college. Instead, I had to work in a fish cake factory as a bookkeeping clerk for several years to earn money. However, I couldn’t save any money because I had to take care of my family. My father passed away early, so it was up to me to support my siblings.
My father was an alcoholic slacker, so to tell you the truth, I don’t miss him. My mother was just a homemaker with no skills; she depended on me a lot until my younger brothers became old enough. I assumed almost all of my family’s financial responsibility because we had no credit. Still, my younger brother just below me was the brainiac in our family, so he got accepted into college. Thus, I paid for his college tuition for four years. Of course, he helped out by working while studying.
Even when I was in my 20s, I couldn’t afford to buy even a hamburger because money was so tight. I could never think of dressing up like my friends. Fortunately, my younger brothers matured early and started working, so they lessened my burden a lot. I was 27 then. People say habit makes a person. Since I had no habit of spending money on myself, when I was finally free from taking care of others, I didn’t know how to spend money on myself.
For the first time, I decided to get a perm at a beauty shop. Previously, I could only afford to get a haircut. When I went to the beauty shop, even then, I usually just cut my bangs myself at home. After a perm, when I looked in the mirror, I really liked how I looked. From that day on, I decided that my dream was to become a hairdresser. If I became a hairdresser, I could do my perm for free.
I started to work during weekdays and attended a beauty school on weekends. I obtained The Beautician license. To be honest, I was so tired physically, but I felt like I was flying after I got my license. I started working at a fairly large beauty shop to gain experience and build my career. My husband was my first customer for a haircut. I was so nervous that I ruined his hairstyle. I cut his hair uneven, leaving almost a coin-sized round hole on his head.
It was clear that he would be very angry with me, and in the worst case, I would get fired. But my husband’s reaction was surprising. “It’s okay. The hair grows again anyway. Instead, why not have a cup of coffee with me?” I felt so sorry and ended up having coffee with my husband. After talking to him, I naturally got to know him. He was three years older than me and was doing interior construction. He was a really fun guy; I couldn’t stop laughing the whole time we were together. It was like someone I had known for a long time.
He said, “Even though I have no money, I’m a very sincere person.” Since I had never dated because I was too busy making a living, my husband was like my first love. That’s how my husband and I started dating, and we got married after three years. With the money I saved, I started a small beauty shop in the neighborhood. My husband did the interior, so it saved me a lot of money, and I became more attached to the store.
My husband’s family wasn’t well off either; his parents were farmers out in the country. Since neither of us could get any help from our parents, my husband and I worked very hard. We worked seven days a week when people rested on Sundays. Thanks to the two of us working hard together, we were finally able to buy a small old condo with a loan. After five years, we got married and were able to escape from renting a room in a basement.
The condo wasn’t much, but we were thrilled since it was the first home we got on our own. Now that we bought a home, we thought we could have a baby. Because we were too busy working, we didn’t specifically make plans for having children, but they were in our thoughts. Then, my mother-in-law called me one day. She said that she co-signed the bank loan for her cousin and was about to lose her home.
“I am so sorry to ask, but I only have you guys to turn for help. Could you just help me out this once, mother? We don’t have that kind of money. We gave it to you last time. This time we can’t do it either.” I really did not want to get involved. All this time, my mother-in-law had gotten money from us many times in a lump sum. It was endless, such as my husband’s siblings’ wedding expenses and big and small family events.
She knew that we were on a tight budget, but she would always say, “You guys have no extra expenses since you have no kids. I wouldn’t ask for your help if you had kids. Please don’t tell your husband, okay?” She touched my Achilles’ heel by asking me not to tell her son. Then I couldn’t say anything because I was guilty. I was the one who couldn’t bear a child.
In the end, this time too, I agreed to solve my mother-in-law’s money problem. Around that time, I had to work all day long due to the increase in regular customers. However, due to overworking, I collapsed and fainted while dyeing my customer’s hair. Per my customer’s account, I was taken by an ambulance, but I had no memory of it. When I opened my eyes, I was at the hospital. After a few tests, a doctor came to my bed with a grim expression, and the words that came out of the doctor’s mouth were shocking.
“Did you not know that you were pregnant? You needed to be careful as you were in the early stages of pregnancy. I’m sorry that you had a miscarriage. We need to do more tests, so you need to rest.” In the meantime, I couldn’t believe I was pregnant because I didn’t even know. I just thought that my period was a few days late because of stress. When my husband heard that I had a miscarriage, he wept on the spot.
The doctor said that I have a weak uterus, but after the miscarriage, my condition got worse, and the chances of getting pregnant became slim. I was stunned and speechless hearing that; I just kept crying. After that day, I fell into depression for a while and stayed at home without even opening my beauty shop. “Honey, I didn’t marry you to have children. All I need is you, so don’t think about anything else. Let’s just care for each other and live happily, okay?” It was my husband’s warm words that saved me from despair.
So my husband and I worked hard while loving each other. But I knew it well that my husband loves children. Sometimes when I went grocery shopping with my husband, his eyes were always on the children running around in the supermarket. I had to pretend I didn’t see it. I thought it would be too quiet with just the two of us, so I got a puppy from the dog shelter and raised it.
The puppy was abandoned by his previous owner, and I had never seen a dog with such sad eyes. It seemed as if the puppy knew he had been abandoned, so I embraced the puppy even more. I named him Piano and started to raise him like my baby. I even made organic snacks for him and took him everywhere I went. Then one day, my period stopped. I had never missed my cycle since my miscarriage a few months ago.
I counted the date, and I thought I might be pregnant. I believed there was a chance of getting pregnant because it wasn’t a complete infertility. Trembling, I went to see a gynecologist. I was worried that my husband would be disappointed if I told him prematurely, but misfortune always comes at unexpected moments. I got a quick test and waited in the doctor’s office for the results.
I saw a lot of pregnant women with bulging bellies, accompanied by their husbands. I was moved to tears, thinking whether a day like that would come to me as well. That was when a nurse called my name. As I entered the examination room, my doctor was waiting for me. “I don’t know how to tell you this. Didn’t your husband come with you?” My doctor looked at me but hesitated for a while. I had a gut feeling it was not good news.
“Doctor, it’s okay. Please tell me. Do I have some disease? It’s not serious, right?” It turned out to be cervical cancer. It was also at stage three. I couldn’t believe I had cancer. After I left the doctor’s office, I went to see the ocean by myself. Thousands of emotions came out. I resented the world, asking why only me. I was just angry and sad about all the ordeals in my life. A lot of thoughts came to me in that moment.
“If one of your family members is sick, the whole family becomes sick,” people say. I may die soon, but my husband will be left behind. I became very worried because he was so devoted. Kind husband. When I finally got home, my husband, with a worried face, asked me where I had been all this time. When I saw his face, tears came to my eyes, but I couldn’t cry in front of my husband.
I didn’t want my husband to find out about my cancer. I didn’t want to burden him with caring for my sickness. In order to do that, I had to keep it strictly secret from him. I started battling my cancer without his knowledge. I had to have surgery after treatment, but I wanted to keep it a secret until then. Every time I went to the hospital for treatment, doctors and nurses asked me why I didn’t have anyone with me.
I told them I didn’t have any family. After three months of treatment, I collapsed with a nosebleed while eating a meal with my husband at a table. My husband rushed me to the hospital and found out about my cancer. My husband became furious. I had never seen my husband so angry. “Why didn’t you tell me all this time? What do you think of me? Why did you keep it from me? You are so sick.”
My husband hugged me and wept. That night, I told my husband everything. I told him that I didn’t want to burden him with a sick wife when I hadn’t done much for him. I told him that I would divorce him so that he could get a fresh start with someone better. “Please do as I say. That’s my last wish.” “Don’t say such a terrible thing!” My husband got very upset with me. Then he said he would do anything to get me cured.
He said I should just concentrate on getting my treatment. I was admitted to the hospital for surgery. My husband had been coming to the hospital every day, but his visits decreased noticeably. However, when he did come, he was very nice to me. He would ask other patients in the room and the nurses to look out for me and bought them all kinds of food and drinks often. I told my friend who visited me at the hospital about my husband’s devotion.
Then my friend questioned whether my husband was having an affair. She said, “I know your husband is not, but these days so many men are like that. I hate to say it, but don’t trust him too much.” Since I became physically weak, I became mentally weak too. Although I told my friend that my husband wouldn’t be unfaithful, I did waver somewhat. Even though I was the one who told my husband to find a better person, I didn’t know it would be this fast.
One day, I asked my husband if he was busy these days. He said that he had a lot of work coming in and he was exercising, going hiking in a mountain with a hiking group. He said he needed to stay healthy so he could nurse me. When I told this to my friend who came on the next visit, she just cut me off, saying she felt sure my husband was having an affair.
“It’s an affair for sure. What hiking? When he never went hiking before. I didn’t think your husband was such a person, but how could it be like that? You had better not trust him too much. If you die, all your insurance money will go to them. Isn’t that unfair?” When my friend said that, actually, I felt relieved. I felt it was good for him if he really had someone else. I’m only human too, so I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel hurt.
After my friend left, I thought deeply for a while. I wondered what kind of woman my husband was seeing. It was funny, but I wished that he had met someone healthy who could give him a child. I felt stuck and stuffy after being hospitalized for a long time. After spending all day with sick people, I felt very down, so I got my doctor’s permission to go out for a few days.
I spent a few days with my husband at home. I tried to persuade my husband sincerely to meet someone for himself. “Then what if I really meet another woman?” My husband told me not to say that because I break his heart every time I say that. I couldn’t say anything more after his reaction. I thought it was better for my husband. When I returned home, my husband was happy, saying that it now felt like home.
He cooked all my meals that were good for cancer, mornings and evenings. Even though I was thankful, I felt sorry. It was a day before I was to return to the hospital when my husband said he was going hiking with his hiking group. I decided to follow him secretly. It wasn’t to criticize his affair, but I was curious about this woman. She would be the woman who will live with my husband. I just wanted to see with my own eyes.
My husband got dressed in hiking gear, and his backpack was bulging with whatever he packed. As I followed him, my husband took the subway and traveled quite a distance. Then he got off at a station where a mountain famous for healing water spring and fresh air was located. As he said, it seemed he was meeting his hiking group there. My husband met a woman at the entrance of the mountain and said hello.
I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but they appeared very friendly with each other. The woman looked my age, and it must have been the woman he was seeing. At a glance, unlike me, she looked healthy and bright. She looked nice outwardly, at least. I was worried about what would happen if my husband met a weird woman, so I was relieved.
I took a picture of the two of them on my phone, and then I went straight back to the hospital. A few days later, when my husband came to the hospital, I showed him the picture I took that day. “Honey, I know everything, so you don’t have to hide it because of me. I told you to find a good person. She seems like a good woman, so don’t meet secretly, and you can live with this woman.”
“It’s not what you think it is. Why did you follow me when you should only think about your hospital treatment? What if you collapse again?” My husband got angry and stomped out. After that, my husband did not come to the hospital for a while. I was sad, but I thought it was right to end this way. A few days later, a man called. He said he wanted to talk to my husband.
I asked who he was and why he was looking for my husband. He said he was a tile contractor. He undertook the construction at the request of my husband, but he couldn’t get hold of him. So he called my number that was listed on our home page. I was puzzled. Construction? In the midst of this, my husband didn’t go to the construction site after he seriously injured his knee. He still would moan with his knee pain whenever it rained.
I told the tile contractor not to tell my husband, and I got the address of the construction site. When I checked the address, it was the area where my husband was hiking last time. In an instant, I remembered the woman I saw that day. Her house must be near there. If he was already living with her, I thought it would be better to meet her with him. So I left the hospital and immediately took a taxi to that address.
The house seemed to be in the middle of that mountain. The taxi driver started to get annoyed, saying, “Why are you going in this mountain valley? The weather looks bad, and it looks like it’s going to pour rain soon.” When I got out of the taxi and looked at the sky, it was full of dark clouds, as if it would rain, just like my life. Then I saw a small cabin. I couldn’t see my husband or that woman.
Suddenly, I heard a woman’s laugh. I walked over toward the sound. “Don’t goof around! It’ll stain all over my clothes!” I was prepared in my mind, but when I actually heard the woman’s laugh, I didn’t feel that great. When I went behind the cabin, I saw my husband in his construction outfit, moving bricks. Next to him was the woman I saw before, but that wasn’t all. Next to the woman was a man who was throwing muddy water at the woman playfully.
Nevertheless, my husband was working hard, sweating profusely. I was puzzled at the situation. At that moment, the three people discovered me and came over. Then the rain started to pour. “Honey, how did you come here?” My husband discovered me and dropped the bricks he was holding. I became dizzy and collapsed to the ground. My husband supported me and took me into the cabin.
“Honey, I should have told you earlier. I’m sorry. I wanted to build this cabin for you as a birthday present. I was going to tell you when it got all finished.” It turned out that my husband got all kinds of natural materials with healing properties to build a cabin where I could live after my surgery. When I heard that, I burst into tears. “Ma’am, don’t cry. You’ll get sick.”
That’s why your husband kept it from you. The woman I mistook as my husband’s lover took my hands and comforted me. She said that she too had been hospitalized with cancer years ago and was now cured. The man next to her was her husband. These people felt pity for my plight and helped me build this cabin. His wife here said that she had recuperated while living in an earthy cabin and got well.
“So you too should recuperate in this cabin and live with me for the rest of your life.” My husband, who was covered in dirt, said to me with tears in his eyes. I was so pathetic that I was suspicious of his affair without knowing my husband’s love for me. That day, I cried for a long time in my husband’s arms. “Honey, I was very selfish, as you said. I’ll receive chemotherapy well in the future, and I’ll persevere through it. Don’t just ask me to meet another woman in the future because you are the only woman in my life.”
Just then, when I looked out the window, the rain that had been falling like hail had stopped. Looking at the clear sky, I felt like my life would be okay. We moved to the cabin right away and decided to live a slow life together. And in this beautiful cabin built with love, my husband and I finally got to welcome a new family member, a baby who was born healthy.