Monday, August 16, 2010

A Letter to the Enemy

Dear Cancer,

I haven't written to you in a while, but I am aware of you every single day. You have been the personal cause of a great deal of misery in my life and the lives of those I love. Most recently, you have made me pretty short on fuel in the tolerance department and it is causes a bit of strife in my household. It is getting better, because I refuse to let you ruin anything else in my life that I personally can control. But I feel like you should know what you have done to me lately.

Thanks to you, right now when all the other parents of the kids who were in Joseph's grade are taking them out to get their senior pictures taken, I am staring still at the last portraits I had done of him - ones in which he had no hair, because the effort require to purge you from our lives required that he sacrifice that. I feel the loss of this milestone acutely. I woke up this morning thinking about it.

Thanks to you, I don't get to go pick out a tuxedo for senior prom with Joseph this year. I am not researching colleges with him and I am not figuring out a way to buy him both a car and a computer before he leaves. It may sound like a blessing in disguise, but it is not. Those are problems I can solve. His death is beyond my power. YOU took that from me and I am mourning as if it just happened all over again as the loss of those things hit me.

Thanks to you, we aren't ordering a class ring, won't be ordering a graduation gown, announcements or invitations. We won't be planning the party of the century, but instead will be turning our heads and putting them down, just trying to get through the spring when those particularly anniversaries will finally, finally pass us by.

Thanks to you, I am keenly aware that my youngest son is now the exact age my oldest son was when you decided to come back again. You weren't welcome in our lives the first time. You weren't welcome the second. And I am also aware my youngest is in the last grade in which my oldest attended any kind of class at all whether from school or the hospital. I am also painfully aware that with his next birthday, my youngest will be the age my oldest was when he died. And on the next birthday, everyone in my immediate family will have outlived Joseph. I anticipate the 13th birthday of Joseph's namesake, his cousin, born four months after his death, is probably going to be a more sad affair than happy for me as well.

I have you to thank, Cancer.I can say without remorse, without any lack of resolve and without any sense of wrongness that if you were a person, I would indeed have no trouble at all.....with putting a gun to your temple and pulling the trigger.

I hate you, Cancer.

I hate all you stole from him, all you stole from me.

This should be a happy time and a happy year. My oldest should be taking the next big step into adulthood and I should be feeling nostalgic and proud, not bereft and griefstricken. I hate what you do to people's lives. I will have the final say, even if you come to visit our lives again. You see, all the horror you brought to us, the pain, the blood, the emotional anguish, has only fueled the resolve of this family and of me personally in particular to take the devastation you wreak and turn it into something deeper and wiser than you might think possible. I will live my life as much as a light to my patients and my family as I can. And I will help them vanquish you. Because even if you take a life from this world, you cannot touch it in the next.

So fuck you Cancer. You can kiss my ass. It's a big one. Find a spot and enjoy.

Without remorse,SR


karen gerstenberger said...

I love this, and love you.

Cassandra said...

Wow this is incredibly powerful. Do you ever read the Sunday NY Times magazines?? With the personal 1-page essays on the last page? I think this would be a terrific fit and I encourage you to submit it (though I absolutely have no idea how that process works or what their acceptance rate is). It is a haunting portrayal of childhood cancer. As well as a beautiful display of your deep love for your son.

Just a thought.

Elizabeth said...

You go girl! F cancer! You should feel bittersweet b/c Joseph would be leaving your house for college this time next year! He should be driving, enjoying friends and worrying about girls! You have shown such great strength. Thank you for your example!