Sunday, May 17, 2009

Waiting waiting waiting

I remember when I finally was going to get married. Suddenly, I noticed so much more "bridal" things. Or recently, EG bought a new, little bitty car, a brand I had never really noticed. Now I see them in various places, in a variety of colors.

Now that my brother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer, I find I pay more attention to how often the illness shows up. Randy Pausch had pancreatic cancer--he eventually died of the illness. Patrick Swayze has the same thing--rumors vary as to how he is doing. Steve Jobs was treated; Ruth Bader Ginsberg is being treated.

Things don't look good for any of them.

Of those diagnosed, only 20 percent are alive after one year, and only 4 percent are alive after five years.

How ironic that my mother is in hopice while we all wait for the inevitable, and now this has usurped that horrible wait with something even more unfair and tragic.

I don't do the waiting thing well. When I got a letter from the Cleveland Clinic, telling me that there was an abnormality in my mammogram, I called right away. The receptionist asked me when I wanted to come in, and I said, "Now?" Uh, no, but they could fit me in six weeks later for more tests.

So for six weeks I walked around wondering if my body had turned against me, if I was going to have to fight death off sooner than I expected, if my children would be raised without a mother.

Now my brother-in-law knows those same things, plus he is in pain, and he is uncomfortable because he is retaining fluids, and he has side effects from the pain killers, plus he cannot keep anything down and is losing weight at a drastic rate.

And he waits for the chemo to start, waits for the chance to commence fighting this thing which has taken over his body and his family's life.

My sister has exhibited remarkable grace through all this--all her worry and care focused on him but on keeping life as normal as possible at the same time. She grocery shops, run errands, takes her husband to the emergency room, researches online, attends her kids' school functions, goes to work, and takes time out for the simple things.

I am on the outside, looking in, and feeling helpless.

And yet, the one thing we have in common is that we are all waiting, waiting, waiting.

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