Tuesday, June 28, 2011

faith, love and finality

I mentioned, in this post, that my cousin's wife has cancer that has spread to her spinal cord. I've felt pretty down this last week, and I think a big part of it is this whole situation. I can't stop thinking about it. On Sunday night, I was driving back to New Orleans, doing 90 down I-10 and blasting Third Eye Blind (don't judge me; their self-titled album is amazing), just sobbing because the whole situation is just so. fucking. sad.

On one hand, I feel almost like a hypocrite because I'm not exactly close to my cousin or his wife. We see each other on holidays, we kind of keep in touch via Facebook, but it's pretty telling that I'm only hearing this information third-hand. I remember when Candace died and all these people showed up at the funeral, like they were close to her. That still rubs me the wrong way, though I understand better now how far grief can extend, how it shocks people and how they need some sort of closure from it, even when it's not directly a part of their lives. But I still feel kind of guilty about being all, "oh I'm so distraught."

On the other hand, I am pretty distraught. Because it's is an incredibly sad story. Apparently S, my cousin's wife, lost her own mother to this exact cancer when her mom was in her early 40's. So when S found out she had it, she had a radical mastectomy to prevent the same thing from happening to her kids. But the cancer has spread to her spinal fluid and now she's having to explain to her kids, who are young teenagers, that she's dying. I can't even begin to imagine the grief. The anger? The complete and utter sorrow. I keep thinking, "What if it was Alex and me? Having to hear it from our mom?" We're older than those kids are and still, the thought alone drives me to tears.

The one bit of comfort I find here, and I can thank William James for this, is that they have something to believe in. I found myself wanting to pray or SOMETHING, wanting to do some small thing that ultimately probably wouldn't matter but would make me feel better and I thought back to William James and his idea that it doesn't matter if God exists or not if people's belief in a higher power makes them happy. So I prayed/hoped/thought to myself that I was so glad, so thankful that they have something to believe in, something that I hope makes this horrible situation just a bit more bearable. That it helps S to believe that she has an afterlife to look forward to and it helps her kids to think that she is in heaven.

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