My day started without incident. Most of them do. I awoke and showered. Today’s order of business is taking me to Detroit to inspect and inventory a hospital’s disposed equipment. This is a part of my job. Frankly, it’s one of my favorite things I do, due to the mystery of what I may find. I stopped off, 40 minutes into my excursion, to grab coffee. The phone rang. For the past four years, phone calls always induce slight panic. This was no different.
Siri’s Australian accent lit up my car. “Call from…Joyce Buuuts.” “Hi mom”, I said.”We haven’t spoken in 10 minutes, so what’s up?” “Don’t forget, to wish Arthur a happy birthday today.” “Today is Arthur’s birthday? Fuck…Today is the day Jacob was diagnosed with cancer.”
I pulled out of the coffee drive threw, pulled into a random Five Guys parking spot, and started to cry. This isn’t a normal cry. I started to scream, followed by hyperventilating. Do you know the crying that requires a nap after? That was me. I was transported to the first day of his cancer journey. I drove to Oxford, OH and picked up Jacob. His plans were to return within a week. Jacob attended class that day. Of course, he did.
The following day, we were in front of the head of CCF’s Taussig Cancer Center, hearing the news. Jacob would be admitted immediately. Chemo would start later that day. We heard all the news, met his oncology team, and felt somewhat confident. I still remember the words from his doctor when he said,” our goal is to cure this. I reiterate, to CURE you.” As the day grew longer, my confidence began to grow too. This was going to be a bump in the road. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. My job was simple: Keep the family positive.
There is no need to recall every minute of the 613 days between the day if his diagnoses and the day of his death. I’ve done this, over time. However, I find it fascinatingly sad, how one comment can pull total recall. Hearing the words, “Don’t forget today is Arthur’s birthday”, immediately pulled me into recall, so vivid that I can smell the hospital, and see every expression on everyone’s face that day. Every minute of that day is easily recalled.
So, what do I do now? What do I do to make today the best I can? This question is somewhat rhetorical. The easy answer is, I don’t fucking know. I truly don’t. I’m paralyzed in sorrow but I am writing. My trip was postponed, as driving to Detroit isn’t safe today. I am going to work and I am going to do everything I can to make today productive. I know a nap will happen because crying is the ultimate workout.
Jacob’s death will never make sense. He was a man who was doing great things. His number one asset was love. He cared so deeply for his sister, family, cousins, friends, and everyone else. Jacob was inherently empathetic. His last years were surrounded by a division in this country not seen since the 1860’s, yet he found common ground.
Here is my plan today. Break each task down to its most simplistic state. Complete one thing at a time. When I need to cry, accept it, sit in that moment, then move to the next. But. Feel!
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