Stage 4

I have a cousin with Stage 4 cancer. My mother told me this over the phone about a cousin I’ve seen maybe a handful of times in all my life. I remember her face, but I haven’t seen her in many years. Its partly my fault that I haven’t seen her.

I’ve distanced myself from family reunions and such events. My schedule is packed with kids and work and school. It’s been this way for years and everyone lives so far away it takes over an hour each way just to drive out to see someone.  I am also not close to my extended family because, well that s a story for another day. No need for tangents today.

Today its about my cousin who I hardly know. Her cancer has spread. She’s about my age, maybe a little older. She has 3 kids like me a little older than mine and my mother tells me this information over the phone and I don’t want to hear it. I should have known by the way she worded the text why she wanted me to call her.

I don’t want to listen to more bad news. These days my mother is full of bad news. Maybe its her depression, maybe its mine, maybe we are just getting older and the world sucks.

I want to tell her “the next time I talk to you on the phone will you give me only the good news”, but I don’t dare. Why? Because its immature, selfish, inconsiderate and on the border of denial about the real world.

I fight the urge to get off the phone. I grew up with my mother depressed. I grew up with my father depressed and drunk. I just don’t want to listen to the sadness anymore, but love is a bitch and so I stay on the phone and listen.

But what am I suppose to do with this information. Am I suppose to go visit this cousin of mine who I don’t know at all except by my mother’s word of mouth. Am I suppose to go sit by her hospital bedside way on the other side of town and tell her what? Hey cousin, I’m sorry you have cancer. I know we’re perfect strangers. It sucks that you are going to die. How can I help?”

Wait how the hell can I help? I can barely take care of my responsibilities….Geeze I am selfish and self-centered these days. I will do it for work and I sincerely want to help, but for extended family….

As she continues talking to me I realize the phone call is not about my cousin, not all of it anyways. Its about my mom getting this sadness off her chest, having someone to talk to. I am about the age of my cousin. I have the same amount of children. In a way I think my mother is morning for me and my siblings. She worries about loosing us.

I guess my mother notices my hesitation because she asks me to pray. She knows I don’t believe in God but she knows I tend to be a very spiritual person so she tells me to pray to mother earth or the trees or whatever I pray to because its all the same in the end and I can’t help but giggle. I guess she has a point. Maybe. But I can defintelly pray to mother earth or the trees or whomever for my cousin to get better, but she has stage 4 cancer…





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