Monday, September 23, 2013

When It Hurts the Most

Tonight, I was watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy. In it, a man is diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Most people wouldn't experience the gut wrenching pain I got when I heard them deliver this prognosis, but I understand what that diagnosis means.

A little over seven years ago, my parents were visiting. I was listening to my father vomit once again. He had lost so much weight, but no one knew what was wrong because he refused to go to the doctor. I glanced at Gary and said, "Papa has cancer." And I was right.

A few weeks after my parents returned home, my father was so dehydrated he passed out in the doorway. My mother took him to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He was immediately scheduled for surgery.

While we were waiting for his surgery, my dad's best friend joked with him about his odds of recovery. He suggested going out and killing a couple people with esophageal cancer. Because the odds are 1 in 3 for a 5 year survival rate. That is, if the cancer is caught early, which my father's was not. Less than 8 months later, my father was dead.

And mostly, it doesn't hurt, except when it does...

My older brother went to prison on my 17th birthday. I remember sitting in court when they brought the jail docket in. It was traumatic, although I didn't realize until recently how traumatic. I wanted to go to court, and I don't think my parents could have stopped me, but the pain that I still experience is deep and abiding.

I've had to go to court 3 times since July. Dog problems with the neighbors. The first time, I wasn't prepared. I wasn't prepared for the anguish I would feel when they brought the jail docket in. I almost started crying. Right there in court. Because people I didn't know were in shackles.

And most of the time, it doesn't bother me. My brother being in prison was a part of my life. It just was. It wasn't my fault. It didn't define my brother. And it was only a chapter in his life. Or it should have been. But, he drowned less than a year after he got out of prison. I only saw him once, briefly, after he got out of prison before he drowned.

And sometimes, when I'm dealing with a child who is just like him, I wish he was here so he could give me advice. Because it helps to talk to someone who understands.

And mostly, it doesn't hurt, except when it does...

1 comment:

Please, be respectful. We're all friends here. We can disagree with respect.


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