In the past month and a half of my life I have learned that not one but two women I know have children with cancer. This sucks ass. One child is fifteen and the other is not even five. Both kids are fighting for their lives from some unseen crazy ass mutation going on inside of them. It hurts me to even think about it, but lately, it is all I can think about. I try not to think about it… and I always fail miserably.
When I see these ladies or anyone in their respective families I see the mask of hope they wear like armor, but under that emotional armor I see the rust colored stains of weariness and stress. When I get close to them, I can smell the desperation seeping from their pours like the sweat of an Olympic athlete. When I catch a glimpse of them, when they think they are alone and no one is watching I can see the weight of the world pushing down on their shoulders as they try to cope with the unthinkable thoughts that crowd their respective brains for attention. All of these observations make my heart weep and my soul cry out in anger.
These are good people, people who are caring, charitable and just down right pleasant. They don’t deserve to be burdened with this shit, let alone their innocent children. I don’t think there is anyone alive today who has not felt the uncontrolled and unfettered tendrils of cancer creep into their lives. But when an adult who has lived their life gets cancer we sympathize with them and are hopeful that a good outcome will eventually present itself. A lot of times it does, sometimes it does not. When those failures come and you attend the funeral of that person you will inevitably hear someone say “They had a good life.” Or “They lived life to the fullest.”
How the hell can you say that about a teenager or even a toddler? You can’t. They never got the chance to have a good life. As a matter of fact, life dealt them a shitty hand from the bottom of the deck and someone should have to pay. But you can’t blame God, you can’t blame Satan. Hell, you can’t blame anyone. How can you point a fickle finger of fault at one person or being and say “You, You’re the motherfucker responsible for killing this kid!” Life, faith and core human knowledge tell you this on the logical side of your brain. But on the emotional side, you want to make some asshole pay and pay dearly.
I was talking with a co-worker today, he is more of a friend, about this, he asked me “What would you do?” Without hesitation I said “I’d probably be looking at the wrong end of a gun and then have a few choice words with God and I’ll be damned if he tried to placate me without answering my questions to my fullest satisfaction.” This of course is my hubris, my way of tipping at windmills, rattling my sabers, but it also makes me not feel so helpless.
If I feel this way, how do the families that are going through this mess on the front lines feel? I can only imagine and replay our conversations in my head. Conversations filled with hope, seasoned with tears and tainted with platitudes usually end in uncomfortable silences, shrugs of shoulders and long heartfelt hugs. After all, we are caring humans and the tragedy of these situations become a glue of sorts that bind us closer together. A glue that we should always have for one another but only seems to make itself known during times of great strife. I know I’m guilty of this sort of behavior but you know, even though this season of pain seems to be filling my life, I know eventually time will pass, people will live or die and other people will move on in their lives.
The people who survive will eventually laugh again, cry again, love again and they even may have moments where the tragedy they lived through won’t be the only thought in their heads but deep down, down in their soul, there will be a living, breathing void of sooty, rotten pain that will wake them up in the middle of the night. That’s when they will shed tears of loneliness in a dark room, maybe they will be fortunate enough to be able to reach out a cold, shaking hand to a loved one who is softly snoring in the moonlight and they will feel the comfort of that person’s warm skin. Maybe they won’t be able to do that, maybe they will have become so damaged by what they have gone through that their own emotions get turned off and the cancer that took their child will have left them hollow inside, unable to feel the warmth of another human. In essence, they become a zombie.
I’ve tried to give words of comfort to these ladies, I’ve tried to not show my anger and frustration I feel on their behalf, I don’t know if I’ve succeeded or not. But I do know that for the past few nights, when I’ve come home from long days at work I hug my daughter just a little bit longer and just a tad bit tighter. I can’t imagine what I would do if anything like this happened to her. I don’t want to imagine it, because I know what kind of father I am, I know what I’m capable of and I know that my wrath and anger would rattle the foundations of heaven and douse the flames of hell.
So I only have one last thing to say, Fuck Cancer, Fuck Cancer in its ugly goat ass.