Five Thoughts I Had When My Dad Was Diagnosed with Cancer

Most of my books are stolen from my dad's bookshelves. He doesn't mind. Much.

1. My Dad wears Cowboy boots, he doesn’t belong here. We walk down through the oncology ward, past all the people with their withered frames and oxygen masks. To the last room at the end of the hall. And my dad looks just like himself and his boots sound just like themselves and I know it all must be a misunderstanding.

2. Cancer happens to other people, it is the tragic diagnosis at the beginning of a movie, the thing that gets the plot moving a quarter of a way through a book. It is a means to a narrative end. Not something that happens to my Dad. Don’t you understand? His story is already moving forward, this is not a lesson I want him to learn, he doesn’t need this.  His story is horse shows and driving his black truck and making out with my mom and giving everything to everyone even when his pockets and bank account are empty. These new invaders, this army of rogue cells that don’t know my dad, they are not his story.

3. It’s the end of the world. It’s the end of the world. It’s the end of the world.

It’s the end of my world.

4. The F word, over and over. More times than I have heard it in life, more times than I have ever thought it, more times than this good non-cursing girl knew it could exist in her non-cursing head . The F word at the sick people around him. The F word at the smiling nurse who is helping and caring. The F word at the doctor who gets to go home at the end of this day. The F word at everything in my life that needs me, because I don’t want to be anywhere but this little room with my mommy and my daddy. Over and over. And it rages in the wind and swirls up filling the dark cracks of my mind.  Because he is good and he deserves more and why the hell is this happening to the person that gave me Ray Bradbury and John Wayne and a love of God and Man.

And then finally, after a few breaths and a few more. And the reassuring touch of my husband and the sticky hands of my babies. And my mom by my dad’s side, where she belongs, where he needs her, where she will move mountains. And many prayers and a few more and then so many that the prayers become the background noise to every thought, every action, every waking moment. I feel peace. The fear and hurt and anger and sadness are still there, too. But they float above a stillness that blunts their weaponry and softens the sounding of their horns. And in the stillness, I hear that one last thought. The one piece of certainty I am going to carry with me until we reach the other side of this moment that does not define us…

5. We are going to kick this thing's ass.