In Sickness and In Health

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yesterday  I went to see my dying cousin. I was unprepared, mentally and emotionally, for what I was to see. He had burns on the sides  of his face from going for radiotherapy. His weight had dropped to a sickly shadow of what it was. At least he could still crack a joke. it was chilling, knowing that you, or your children could end up like this. Granted, it wasn’t cardiomyopathy, but the immuno-suppressants had aided in allowing it to progress. Too weak, his body was helpless in fighting off the cancer that was attacking him. If radiotherapy didn’t work, that was pretty much it.

There were a lot of thoughts in my mind on the long drive home. Sometimes I wondered if it would be better if I never married or had a child. That way this disease would die with me. But that was silly. What if I had made it past 39 with no signs of the disease on the way? Was it worth all those years in solitude? I wondered if my predecessors had ever thought about this as they made love to the one they thought the world of.

It made me wonder about some of my ‘lifestyle choices’, so to speak. I looked back and recalled why I did some of the things I did, and it struck me: that was awfully stupid of me to gamble with my health. I hated how that rolled off the tongue: gamble with my health. I had remembered arguing with an ex about it, and I remembered how I said I would stop wrecking my body. I promised her I would check myself in the hospital, and that I would exercise regularly, to lessen the chances it would strike me. I  remembered throwing all those promises away when she broke my heart.

A gentle hand distracted me from my thoughts as it reached out. Its touch took off the sting of death  from my mind. I didn’t say it, but I was grateful. It was going to be a long  day.

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