Three days before Christmas, Mary slipped in the shower and cracked her head on the soap dish. I found her a half hour later. The water was long cold and her skin had turned purplish, like an overripe plum. Her speech was gone, and she gave me one of her impatient looks: what took you so long? I wrapped her in her favorite plaid blanket, then carried her to the car and drove to the emergency room. After all the tests, they told me it was brain cancer, four to six months to live. That was seven months ago.