Happy. Normal. Scary. A memory of cancer in three parts. Part 1

12 Dec

While dredging the files of abandoned thumb drives I chanced upon 1,000 words written by a younger Josh in the days after my fathers passing. What I submit to you now has been edited for spelling only. It is not the best writing, it is the stream of consciousness of a grief stricken son. I read it with the fascination of a voyeur. 7 years is not a lifetime, but it seems that way sometimes, doesn’t it?


“Your dad might look a little scary.”

Scary? What is this, Halloween? What Steve means is that they just cut a big nasty hole into his scalp, sawed open his skull and chopped up his brain like a slab of sirloin, and he’s gonna look the part. The part of a man taken apart and put back together. Humpty-fucking-Dumpty
I wonder if I will be able to tell now? Will I see the cancer under his skin or smell it rotting on his breath?

“I just wanted to warn you. Try to act as happy and as normal as possible.It’s very important… and keep the visit short. He needs to rest.”

Two days ago the sun fell through the window like a promise of summer. Dad and I leaned against the kitchen table and joked and crunched tuna melts.
That was happy. That was normal.
Yesterday was waiting, and phone calls and family coming to wait and hug and ‘when can we see him?’. It seems like a year ago. This is when time begins to fade and awareness of hours and days and weeks blinks lazily or disappears all together. Just moments. Instances in this crisis that can’t be quantified by Gregorian timetables. On and on part of one big nightmare.
Normal. Happy. Scary.
He may look scary. Will his mouth be slack and trickling drool? Will half his face be reinvented? Will he still be my dad? Steve is lookin us in the eyes, he is real good at that, this guy’s head is screwed on tight. If he could look me in the eyes then I had one foot on solid ground. It helped that he looked like his younger brother, my dad. Dustin just stands there and nods. We are in a little waiting room. Soft lights, fake plants, women’s magazines and jars of potpourri that had gone completely sterile like 5 years ago. Hey guys, change the fucking cinnamon sticks while you at it.


2 Responses to “Happy. Normal. Scary. A memory of cancer in three parts. Part 1”

  1. Hal Amen December 12, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    powerful. you were a great writer 7 years ago too.

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