Jul 11, 2023

Mom was tested today, and they say they can't find any tumor markers, which is remarkable because her abdomen was riddled with tumors. She has ovarian and lung cancer, but after over three months of surgery and chemo, they can't find any tumor markers.

Before Mom went in for her surgery on April 2, Tim and I spent a month putting our hands on her shoulders for five minutes or so, twice a day. We'd think, "You are well. You are healthy. You are clean. You will live." Our hands and Mom's shoulders would get hot. I mean, really hot. Like electric-blanket hot. Heating-pad hot.

They think she can come home at the end of the month. She isn't cured, but the fact that they can't find tumor markers means the cancer hasn't spread. They think it'll have no effect on her lifespan. She is, after all, eighty-five. Since April 2, she's had too many setbacks to count. Anemia, infections, low white blood cells, and pneumonia are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. But like Tim and me, she wants to live. Though she's not afraid of dying, she has a very strong will to live.

Dad immediaterly lost his mind and died a little over a month after his official cancer diagnosis. The irony is that his cancer was far more treatable than Mom's. He could still be here, if he hadn't given up.

Everyone makes their own choices. For some people, life may not seem worth fighting for. But Dad was so terrified of dying that to escape reality he invented a bizarre coma-like state that he could turn on and off at will, and he became so hysterical that he put Tim, Mom, and me through absolute hell. He was afraid to die, but he also refused to acknowledge his cancer by cooperating in his treatment. It was simply too much for him to process. He took refuge in madness, so we had to choose which parent to save, since both Mom and Dad were diagnosed with cancer on the same day, January 16, 2013.

I know Dad never thought we'd call his bluff. He thought we'd let him continue wreaking havoc, the way he always had. Well, he was wrong. I think he woke up in the hospice and said, "Shit. I'm actually here." And that killed him. Now Dad is dead, and Mom is coming home at the end of the month. She'll never be the same, but she'll be home, and she'll be able to do the things she likes to do.

Though I'm not religious, I follow the example set by the art critic Sister Wendy Beckett, a fellow contemplative who lives a cloistered life. Sister Wendy prays for the souls of the dead, so I do too. It can't hurt, and I've faced death so many times I feel a kinship with the dead. They're my brothers and sisters. I pray for my father, that he find peace, face reality, and grow the fuck up. Maybe Dad will finally listen and stop with the little stunts he's pulling right now. I'll write about them someday, in a book I'll call Edifications. Things right out of The Amityville Horror have been going on since Dad died on February 23, 2016. We're not afraid, but it's intrusive. He has to stop when Mom gets back, or we'll call in someone to exorcise his butt.

His problem is he's angry that we're still alive and he isn't. He's also angry that on the other side, there's an accounting of the life you led. Above all, Dad refused to be held accountable for his actions. He spent his eighty-four years of existence in this cycle doing everything he could to avoid being pinned down. If you said, "How are you today?" he'd answer, "Why do you ask?" All his life, he did exactly what he wanted, because he felt that he was the only person who mattered. He told me that he honestly believed that he'd never die, so he's furious that he did. He thought the rules didn't apply to him.

Take it from me, Dad, rage will do you in. It did do you in. You're dead. Really. Time for you to move on. If you don't do it voluntarity, then we'll make you.