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Cancer: A Disease That Affects an Entire Family
Arguments: Cousins house
“That’s what he wanted!” My cousin, Natalie’s, voice came out a little harsher than she meant. She took a breath, “He wanted to die at home.” Even though I had just entered the room I knew what they were talking about. Tony’s death. Cindy’s husband and Natalie’s dad.
“I didn’t know that.” Cindy was sitting on Natalie’s colorful living room furniture.
“That’s what he told us. He didn’t want to die in a hospital.” Natalie was standing in the kitchen, cutting up some kind of meat. A sound of a child’s cry broke the silence. I walked out of the room and outside to go find Natalie’s two year old twin sons. Tony’s grandchildren. The ones he never got to meet.
Moving Out: Cindy’s Situation
Cindy, my great aunt, put her house on the market the year of his death. Their house was a medium sized two story house. A wonderful neighborhood. A place Tony could’ve died in. He spent years and years sick inside this house. The house reeked of him. Every corner turned was another place the thought of him lingered. My parents, sister, and I used to bring him liquid food bags from costco. Those were the only things he could hold down. I remember thinking, “I wonder if he remembers what real food tastes like? What was his last meal?”
“Hey why are you crying?” Natalie bent over me. I couldn’t get any words out. “I know this is all so sad. It’s okay to cry.” She smiles, but it was broken, crooked. Natalie was crying too, along with everyone else who had ever stepped foot in this church. Besides the ones in the caskets.
It was okay to cry, and I knew that. The one thing I didn’t know was how to handle myself whilst I cried. Do I go up to people and convey my emotions? Retreat to the bathroom and weep in a stall? I stood there motionless while Natalie walks away. The words “It’s okay to cry,” repeated in an endless loop in my head. I looked back at the church. Everything will be okay. I turn and catch up with my cousin and parents.
Pulling The Plug: Hospital
He barely looked half human. The paleness of his face seemed to fill the occupied room. Every breath of his equaled two beeps of an assortment of machines. There was always someone talking. However, it was never about the obvious talking point that lingered in the air around the eight of us. His eyes closed slowly, but always snapped back open looking around at the glistening tear soaked face. Almost every face was wet, but not mine.
Back then I thought it was a competition of who could hide their feelings the best. I was winning.
The room abruptly came to a silence. A ringing of a cell phone went off almost as loud as the other machines that lined the insanely white room’s walls. The only thing that was moving in the room was some machine that was helping Tony Breath. Cindy, my great aunt and Tony’s wife, dug around through her purse. Jingling of keys, wrappers crumpling were barely heard over the language of the machines.
“Hello?” Cindy held up her phone, facetiming.
“Hi, Mom. It’s Natalie.” Natalie is Cindy and Tony’s only daughter of their three children.”Can I talk to Dad?” Her voice was soft and slow.
Cindy adjusts and hands the phone over to Tony. “Hi Daddy, it’s Natalie.”
“Hi dear, I love you.” His words come out all jumbled together due to the three tubes that are in his mouth and down his throat.
“I love you too.” Her voice began to break, “I’ll be there soon.”
“You gotta hold on for me.”
“I love you.”
“Don’t talk like that. I’ll be there really soon Dad. Please hold on-”
I choked. I lost my own little selfish game. Tony’s son and my godfather, Troy, made eye contact just as my eyes became oceans. He grabbed me and pulled me out of the room. I needed to scream, but I was just choking out breaths.
“Hey. Shh...shh..” He was holding me against him. “Everything will be okay.”
And it was.