On the phone with one brother giving an update about the other brother, I say "hold on. I've got to say good-bye," and I give my my brother a hug.
"Why did you give me a hug?" he asks a bit surprised.
In proper smart-assed fashion I reply, "I'm just a tender hearted guy."
"It feels like you're saying good-bye for the last time."
"Nah, I'm just a sensitive guy."
That hit me hard, harder than when I first received my brother's diagnosis. Even though it wasn't the real reason I gave the hug, hearing that statement from him effected a moment where all the frustrations, exasperations, and limitations culminated and blended into a mottled cloth of grief. All the constructs that I had built up so far to try to keep it together began to come apart. And truth be told, it's not like me to give hugs as I'm not the least bit demonstrative when it comes to affection. His question was legitimate and so I tried to answer his question in my mind. I honestly did not know why I impulsively gave the hug inititially. It definitely was not a last good-bye despite the less than cheery doctor visit from which we just came.
It was a complicated sense of failure on my part. He received the first dose of Gemzar at an 80% dose. I knew damned well that his platelets were already low to begin with and that Gemzar would obliterate them further. But emotion trumped reason. I fed the false hope that he would be able to receive the second dose just 1 week after the first. I should've known better but I so wanted him to get the second dose right on schedule. And so it was devastating to me to see the look on my brother's face when the PA told us that there's no way he'd be receiving the second dose that day despite his improved overall clinical status. It wasn't as if he wouldn't be able to get treatment overall. We just need to wait until his platelet counts recover. But still, at that moment in time, I felt like I let him down. Yes, the doctor went ahead and scheduled the chemo and gave that false hope in the first place but I should've know better. No, I did know better and I should've been able to tell my brother that. No platitudes or reassurances from anyone, even my brother will ever change that.