Cancer. I hate Cancer. The word rolls off my tongue, and I want to choke on it. Invading our bodies without an invitation. Sometimes without a known cause, its intent to rob us of every last breath. Making us suffer until every last-minute is agony, and making a person comfortable is the last stop before home.
Cancer, the nasty beast, claimed another victim today. Our long time next-door neighbor and friend. My mom I think is beside herself because she became closer with them lately. She did some of their grocery shopping, helped with his medications, and brought in the mail. I helped, on occasion, when I could. I sent pie a couple of times, and cookies.
When I was younger and my dad was still alive, he and Mark were the best of friends. Always bull-shitting, cracking jokes, and talking about cars. We went out on Mark’s boat once. I wouldn’t go out on the water because I was afraid. They tricked me by telling me to sit in the inner tube when we took a break. Then, they took off! ha ha! Of course, a day or two after we went out on the boat dad passed. It was nice to have this day before the bad came creeping in.
So of course, when Nan came to live with us we were a house full of women. We didn’t know how to fix anything! If anything broke it was cause for panic! Oh, I can picture my grandmother now! Hands thrown up in the air! Huffing and puffing! Call Mark she’d say, and he’d come right away with his tools.
It didn’t matter how big or small the issue. He’d fix it. Cars, recliners, thermostats. Of course, Nan would complain he overcharged. It was her way with everything though. He would listen patiently to her tell him of the issue causing her panic, and fix it to the best of his ability.
I didn’t see him much over the years after I moved out. Off and on I suppose you’d say only in passing. They were good neighbors and friends too. I sent cookies over for holidays, and when Mark’s father passed away.
I remember running into him at the store a year ago. He had his oxygen tank, and was so excited to see me. He couldn’t believe I lost so much weight, and he asked about the Mustang I drive. He liked it because he’s loud. He always told my mom he could hear me coming down the road. His mother thought she saw me once, and he told her, “No, you’d hear her coming from over town.”
I went in a couple of times when mom took groceries. It smelled a lot because he smoked, and they have a cat. His mom doesn’t clean since she’s elderly and can’t. Mom did their shopping because if she drove any longer she’d wreck. It was nice talking to them when I was there. I only regret I didn’t take the time to talk longer. I know he enjoyed talking to me, and he knew my dad. There had to be some funny stories there. Now I’ll never know.
I feel like I’m at a loss. Maybe I should have done more than just baked for them. Or helped with groceries and taking mail over. I know sitting there talking I would have had a hard time breathing, however, it may have made a difference to a dying man. Or I may have learned something.
Oftentimes we say we know someone, but do we really know them? When they are alive we tell ourselves we ARE doing things, and are helping because we are taking little bits and pieces out of our day, but is it enough to satisfy ourselves? Are we prepared for the moment in our lives when we reflect and wonder, “Could I have done more?”
My neighbor across the street from me passed over Christmas from Cancer. My son happened to take her Christmas cookies over the day she passed. Her son came over, and told me thank you for supplying the baked goods for her. I felt so bad she was over there alone suffering with Cancer. Her son and daughter visited, but the majority of the time she was alone.
I couldn’t imagine being alone and suffering with Cancer. After she passed, I wondered if I should have done more? More than baking and sending stuff over? What could I have done?
I made my husband and his company be quiet when they were loud outside. I don’t think I could have been friends with her. She wasn’t a nice woman. We worked together when I was a teenager. I had a part-time job taking care of an elderly lady who was not very nice! She worked there with me. Her son said she liked seeing Henry and Kayla when they brought cookies over. I wonder if that was enough.
I miss seeing her look out the window, and knowing I have another set of eyes watching the kids. Or knowing she is alright over there. I knew when the blinds were open she was up and around, and when they were down she was sick. I knew she watched out for me. I suppose in my own way I watched out for her too with keeping it down over here, and sending the cookies. I know she isn’t suffering anymore, and hope she found it to the right place. Maybe I could have sent the preacher over.
Cancer. Is nasty. I hope it is something I never have. Or nobody in my family has to suffer with. It is one of those diseases you never really know about. The wind could blow and you have it. It is like a lottery you don’t want to win. I hoped I wouldn’t know anyone who ever had to suffer with it, but so far it’s not the case. Are we ever that fortunate?