May 20, 2011

the enemy within

The past 12 hours, my brother has had my sister-in-law, my mom and myself in a surreal laughter mixed with tears on two separate occassions.  That may sound bizarre and twisted.  And it is.  I fully acknowledge the warped nature of laughing in the middle of this.  It'd be easy to chalk it up to lack of sleep but that's not it.  We're surrounded with the imminent death of our loved one and we're brought to laughter and tears in the midst of it.  I don't even know if there's a word or literary device for that in the english language.  If there is, I'd love to know it.  The first story, I can't tell right now.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to tell it here.  The second I can tell but the rawness of it makes it a hard yarn to spin.  But here it is.

At various points throughout the day, my brother will get an idea that he wants to go somewhere.  He'll lift his arms up and start to want to get out of the bed.  When we gently try to redirect his arms, he'll get frustrated with us.  He wants to get up and we're not listening.  Cancer?  What cancer?  It makes perfect sense to him in his mind.  I want to get up.  Get out of my way.  And one point, his wife leans over him and says, "you keep fighting so hard."

"Who is he?"  The three of us kind of look at each other puzzled hoping that one of us understood him.

"You.  You keep fighting," she replies.

"Who is he?"  Again, we look at each other.  "Who is he?"  I think he means it literally.  "Who is he?"  Who is my brother fighting?  Not who, but what.  Cancer.

"You.  You're still fighting the cancer," she says.

"If I knew who he was, I'd fight him............I'd keep fighting him......If I knew who he was.....I'd fight and fight him.  I'd keep fighting."

At that point, we all engage in some strange emotional reaction which is half laughter and half laden with tears.  Even now, he's looking for some physical embodiment to his foe that he could do battle with.  Emaciated, weak, drugged and he's looking for a fight.


Anonymous said...

Isaac, that is a beautiful story...thank you for sharing with us. Please convey our love and thoughts as well as prayers for peace to Anna, your mom & the entire family.

Anonymous said...

Isaac, choir director here. Thank you so much for posting the picture of Josh and Ethan. When Josh was first diagnosed, I told him to fight with everything he had and when it got hard, just fight harder (this from a cancer survivor!!). I told him he owed it to his children. Seeing that picture of Ethan's smile, holding his daddy's hand tells me that my advice was correct. Josh is my hero but better yet, he's Ethan's!!!. Peace to you all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to write Isaac. I have never met you, but your writing has enabled me to stay close. Yes. Josh is a hero, but so are all of you - yourself, your mother and father, my niece Anna, her children. The incredible sadness of Josh's struggle is also an inspiration and call to savor our life and our loved ones. Thank you.