By Lorry Myers
Every story has a beginning so that’s where I will start.
Two kids, born in two different states, each growing up to believe that they could be anything. They made good friends, and sometimes bad choices, like all young people trying to find their way. Both go to college in different states, and learn to do what they came there to do. They spread their wings, each in different directions and years later, these two strangers land in the same big city, in the same state.
This is where the story gets good.
Tanner and Mariah first met on a New Year’s Eve blind date. My daughter’s plan was to show up with a friend, have a cocktail with this guy and move on, but that’s not what happened. Later Tanner told me that when Mariah walked into the room, he knew his world would never be the same.
He was right.
The next year, Tanner and Mariah were engaged, the next year, they were married. Then, home from their honeymoon a week, Mariah sent Tanner to the doctor to address his persistent congestion and increasing ear problems. A few months later, Tanner had his tonsils and adenoids removed, hoping this was the solution.
This is where the story gets bad.
A few days after surgery, Tanner and Mariah held hands as the doctor softly explained that Tanner had Stage 3 Nasopharyngeal cancer. Tanner’s cancer had invaded his nasal cavity, spread from ear to ear and entwined through his soft palate. Surgery was not an option; the only treatment was radiation to his face and weeks in the chemo center.
Now the story gets really bad.
While the rest of us were living our best lives, Tanner and Mariah were fighting for theirs. Mariah held her new husband’s hand during chemo and talked to him, mostly to keep their minds off where they were and why they were there. Mariah asked her husband questions that many never take seriously. What did Tanner want to do with the rest of their lives? What was his big dream, the one he thought would never come true?
This is where the story gets good again.
Tanner’s cancer went into remission, however, the medical bills did not. Still, people are good, businesses are generous and communities stepped up to host fundraisers to support this family when they needed it the most.
Tanner will never forget.
It was the thing he whispered to his wife. It was the thing Tanner talked about in such vivid detail that Mariah let his vision take them far away from the cancer center. Mariah watched over her sick husband and begin to believe that Tanner’s big dream might not be that big after all.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.