Bill Eville has been in love with Cathlin Baker even since they were kids growing up together in New Jersey and she was the cool punk rock skateboarding 'chick' of his dreams.
After years apart they met at a funeral for the parents of a mutual friend. By that time, Cathlin was in seminary studying to become a minister and Bill, deciding that he wasn't going to waste any more time, asked her out to the 'finest dive bar' in the East Village in NYC.
It turns out, Cathlin has always been in love with Bill too.
The couple eventually married, had two children and moved together to Martha's Vineyard where Cathlin was called to serve as pastor to the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury.
One day, Cathlin called Bill with the news that she had cancer and their world changed.
Eville, who is a writer and managing editor of the Vineyard Gazette on Martha’s Vineyard, told the The Moth about his family's difficult, poignant, funny and graceful journey; and the strangest thing that happened when Cathlin got what their youngest daughter 'Pickle' called 'the cance.' Watch the video above to see Bill Eville recording his story.
Below is an excerpt of Bill Eville's first piece he wrote about his wife Cathlin's cancer that appeared in the Vineyard Gazette:
As we drive off the ferry my wife, Cathlin Baker, turns to me and says, “Don’t mind me, I have an extreme sense of well-being.” She then proceeds to chatter and laugh, even waving occasionally to strangers in cars beside us as we wait in traffic on our way to Boston.
Cathlin has always been a glass-overflowing kind of woman, but this is a bit much even for her, especially considering we are headed to her first chemotherapy treatment. In November Cathlin was diagnosed with breast cancer, stage one, curable, but already lodged in her lymph nodes. Since then there have been two surgeries, now chemotherapy, and later more surgery and radiation looms.
Her good cheer is not denial, though, but rather a side effect of the pre-chemo drugs she has been prescribed. We laughed when we read the label on the bottle, “warning can cause an extreme sense of well-being,” and we are laughing now. It feels good to laugh, a sound that has been in short supply since this journey began.
When Cathlin first received her diagnosis I felt disconnected and mostly in denial. I did a lot of pushups and felt the urge to go hunting, something I have never done, the more primal the better. Bow hunting or better yet, just a knife and a loin cloth.
Occasionally it would hit me, though, the full force of what was happening to my wife and as suddenly as a sneeze I would break down crying with no chance of holding it back. Once, while out walking, just the smell of a certain bush, a scent that took me back to childhood, set me off. I bawled as if I were in my room alone with the shades drawn, rather than walking the streets of Edgartown on a sunny winter morning. A Fedex man, his arms full of packages, emerged from his truck. He paused and looked at me.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “No,” I replied.