I don’t really want to do this any more. I don’t want to see my father in this state. I don’t want to believe that something so unlikely could happen to us. I don’t want to accept that something so awful could happen so fast. I don’t want to accept that after all that chemo it is never going to get better and that it will almost certainly get worse. I don’t want to cart my dad to doctor after doctor in a wheelchair, worrying that he will fall when transferring from the chair. I don’t want to think of my dad as someone with brain damage. I don’t want to see him with a beard as until his cancer I had never in my life seen him anything but clean-shaven and put together. I don’t want to open my e-mail 20x a day and find no e-mail from him. I don’t want to remember all the medical blunders and mistakes that cost us two months. I don’t want to hear my mom say how we need to fight the disease with everything possible, thus prolonging the torture for all of us. I don’t want to research drugs and treatments. I don’t want to know more about this disease than our oncologist. I don’t want to call the onc and ask for a prognosis. I don’t want to worry that I will give my father my cold and kill him. I don’t want to lose him. I don’t want to see other grandparents walking down the street with their grandkids and know that if I’d just married earlier my dad would have had that too. I don’t want to hear other people complain about their parents. I don’t want to hear about a God whom I can only conclude either does not exist or is indifferent to the suffering of kind people who believe in him. I don’t want to see what said God has done to my father, who–unlike me–believed with all his heart. I don’t want to ride to doctor appointments in a special wheelchair van.
I don’t want to love a husband who changes the subject when I talk about my dad. I don’t want to accept that before too long this husband and my baby daughter will be my only family, so that my life will consist of two people I can’t talk to about anything and one whose welfare I am responsible for so that I cannot take a break to grieve. I don’t want to admit that a huge part of the problem is probably me. I don’t want to accept that if I get cancer at similar ages to my parents, my life is half over. I don’t want my life to end like my father’s. I don’t want to hear my husband say “you feel so alone because you don’t have siblings, like I do,” because I don’t have siblings, it isn’t my fault, and at this point in my life none are going to spontaneously materialize. I don’t want to think that now only my mom and me remember my childhood, and that someday there will only be me. I don’t want to Google “will we meet our loved ones in the afterlife?” knowing that most likely the answer is that death is going to sleep forever, and that after we go there is nothing left of us to care about questions like these.
I don’t want to remember my uncle’s e-mail after the earthquake that destroyed my family’s home in India–“don’t worry–we have not lost much, compared to others who have lost all.” I don’t want to remember how a few years after the earthquake, my uncle died abruptly in his 40s. I don’t want to think that now my father has a brain tumor, and that he and my uncle will never retire together in India the way my father used to talk about. I don’t want to think that now that the time has come to worry, neither my uncle nor my father is able to do so, as one is beyond worry and the other is no longer capable of it, and that we too now have lost all.