Thursday, January 08, 2015

January 8, 2015 - What You Can't See in the Tide Pool

A poignant personal reflection on life and death, today, from Anne Lamott's book, Traveling Mercies:

We were, in fact, going to learn later that afternoon that my father had a brain tumor on the word section of his brain, a metastasized melanoma, something no one had ever survived at that time. In just a week or so, doctors were going to take out as much of the tumor as they could, but they weren't going to be able to get it all; its tentacles reached deep inside his brain. He was going to come home from the hospital to his girlfriend's house looking like Dr. Frankenstein had had a go at him. He was going to have the most aggressive forms of radiation and chemotherapy available, be part of a clinical trial that wouldn't work for him; he was going to have one good year in between these treatments where he would be able to work off and on, and walk with us every day; he was going to live to see John graduate from Berkeley; he was going to live to see my younger brother graduate from high school; he was going to live to see me sell a novel about our family to a fancy New York publisher; he was going to live to read a draft of it while his brain was still functioning.

But then the cancer was going to start to eat away at his mind, and he was slowly going to end up like a huge friendly toddler. He was going to have to bear knowing for a while that his mind was going; he was going to have to bear letting his kids and girlfriend dress him, clean him, feed him; he was going to end up living at the one-room cabin with me and Steve, his girlfriend and oldest friends around, playing Pete Seeger on the stereo, and Billie Holliday, Joan Baez, and Mozart, the Modern Jazz Quartet. He was going to end up in a coma a month before he died, the cabin turned into a hospice room and us the stricken nurses. My father's handsome fair face was going to have tumors on it— tumors on the skin that today was flushed with health. The cancer was going to spread like a chain of stores, and he was going to need morphine and catheters and lemon swabs and fleecy bedding. Maybe he would hear the music we played on the stereo in the cabin, maybe he would be aware of us watching him through the night, but what we did not know that day on the lava rock was that he was going to die two years from this August morning—this morning when the three of us were walking about peering into tide pools, with our dog Muldoon bumping into our legs, the late-summer diffusion of light making everything in the pools seem larger: the sea anemones, the bloom of algae, the tiny crabs.

1 comment:

Rick Simpson said...
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