February 27, 1994
When Scott, my fiancé, got out of bed, I was expecting another luscious, lazy Sunday with the love of my life. But life took another turn.
“Peggy, can you come in here, please, and take a look at this?” he yelled from the bathroom in our apartment. Curious, I stepped into the tiny space next to the vintage claw-foot tub that dominated the room.
He was gazing at his neck in the mirror. I turned his body toward the light flowing into the Victorian floor-to-ceiling window. As soon as I saw the lump on the side of his neck, just below his ear, I felt a pit in my stomach. The flesh-colored lump was the shape and size of a quarter and stuck out like a rolling hill—so high that, from the angle at which I was standing, it appeared to cast a shadow.
It felt hard and solid. I wanted to wipe the feeling away from my fingertips, but the sensation would not go away, even after I removed my hand. I had kissed that neck the night before. Why hadn’t I noticed it? How did I not feel it under my lips?
“Get that checked out as soon as possible, honey,” I said.
Quickly, I left the bathroom and went to the bedroom where he could not see me. I stared out the window overlooking the parking lot and quietly cried. I had a feeling, a premonition, that this was something terrible, and that our lives were about to suddenly change. In an instant, my mind wandered and contemplated the very worst. I imagined my future self, looking out this window after his death. I felt so alone. I felt so sad. I had no idea what this lump was, but I could not shake the feeling that I would be living my life without him. We’d only just begun. How would I live without my love?
Peggy Doherty DeLong, Psy.D., is a clinical and forensic psychologist with a private practice in Long Valley, New Jersey. She assists individuals and groups to foster gratitude and cultivate joy in everyday living. She also owns Peggy’s Midnight Creations, where she designs bracelets for life’s transitions and challenges. An accomplished psychologist, entrepreneur, speaker, and author, Dr. DeLong feels passionate about bringing people together and helping them live their very best lives. This story is the prologue to her bestselling memoir, I Can See Clearly Now: A Memoir about Love, Grief, and Gratitude.