Thoughts of a Father
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wait for a diagnosis of cancer? I now know. Here are my thoughts from the first day this began last week. I think he’ll be okay.
I held him as he screamed yesterday, the needle entering his vein, and I thought, “I hope and pray this is not the beginning.”
We’d take him to MD
I can imagine all this, but in my heart, it has to just be an exuberant immune response to mono, right? Please? How can my child have cancer? Diverse genetic mix, mostly vegetarian diet, clear island air, no carcinogens. It’s just not possible. I try to cut a deal with God: Save my son, let this all be a lump of nothing, make it all smaller, and I promise I will be good. In however many ways that I’m not, I’ll be good.
All my personal concerns, various worries, evaporate under the heat of this lump.
I saw my friend of long ago last year at the Hawaiian Eye Conference. “How many kids do you have,” I asked. “Two,” he responded, “a twelve-year-old and a ten-year-old.” “I thought you had twins.” “We did. One died two years ago. Lymphoma.” He talked of how this trip to the conference was the first he and his wife had been able to take. There was no time to mourn two years ago. “What can you do?” he said. “You’ve got these other kids that are alive and who need you. They need your love, your presence, your joy and enthusiasm for them. So you bury one child and try to keep moving forward.”
The universe and God I do not understand. Suffering and the suffering of the innocent, I do not understand. And at times like this, I don’t try to understand, fearing my explanation
or theory may just be false placation. It’s just the way it is, and there is nothing I can do about it. Will my magical thinking help? Will the universe still respond with “your wish is my command”? Is my son any more important, just because he is mine? Thousands of despondent parents bury their children every day – death by lymphoma, or leukemia, or tuberculosis, or starvation, or war, or murder. And the world just keeps going on. I just keep going on, thinking about me, my concerns, my pursuits, my hopes, oblivious of their pain and the fragments of their broken hearts. Why would I be so special as to receive my request from the universe, from God? I feel reticent even to ask.
Over the last few years when death would come up in conversations (your great-great grandmother died, Duke died, the cat died), Arman has so often said, “I’m scared to die, I don’t want to die alone, can you die with me, Dad?” We realized he thinks that the next world is in the ground, somehow related to the grave. “How will we be able to see each other if we get buried in different holes?”
For most of the day, I’m just doing something else. I look up from my work, and wonder what it was that was causing my anxiety? Briefly forgotten. And the knowledge rushes in, pushes the fragile calm out, my tears well up, and I sob.
(Published in World Peace, a Blind Wife, and Gecko Tails, by David Khorram, MD)