Friday morning, I checked my phone to make sure that I hadn’t missed some earth-shattering call (I’m not that important, seriously), and saw that I had a text from my dad that read, “call asap.911” Knowing it couldn’t be good news, I called him and found out that his brother, my uncle and basically additional parent, has cancer. Well, wait: cancers. As of now, we know that it’s in his (failing) kidneys, lymph nodes, bones, lungs, and potentially his liver. The outlook for a situation like this is, as you might imagine, not great.
We visited him in the hospital last night, on our way home from Tahoe. He was asleep when we arrived, and awoke a few minutes later. We sat in his dim hospital room, he with far too many wires and IVs sticking out of him, me on the edge of the bed “so he could look at me,” and GP in a chair in the corner, knowing how hard it was for me to even remotely hold it together. We talked for nearly an hour, in the sort of way that you would hope to talk with someone who has played such a huge role in your life, in what might potentially be the last weeks of theirs. Walking out of the hospital, GP commented that my uncle and I are “so alike,” which was particularly meaningful (and, yes, completely heartbreaking) because it was proof of my uncle’s impact on my life. The way I choose our words, the way I joke, my wanderlust, and my preference for gin and tonic come cocktail hour? That’s all him. Every single bit.
I want this to be a bad dream. I want to know that my uncle is going to get to be an old man, just like he wanted. I want life to seem fair, and for cancer not to fucking suck so much. Because it does. Even from the top of a mountain, where problems like the bitchy email you got from a coworker, or the fact that you’re going to be walking funny for a few days because you climbed that damned mountain, cancer…sucks.