As discovered in a prior piece, I have found that first, the art of writing has little to do with the act of writing and second, the ends mostly justify the means. Not wishing to dwell in the realm of cliché, I am working this evening with the reality that I must report on what is there as opposed to what I would prefer. I have found muse and it is of a less then splendid event. As you, my faithful readers know, I am in love with words. I love them, play with them, search meaning in them, manipulate them, and bask in their very glow. I am so enamored of them that I will give up comfort and security to read them and write them. It is, to me, almost (remember that word…almost) as fulfilling as being in love.
I have long held that there are no evil words, only immoral uses for them. If I read something (or write) that is of a negative viewpoint it is purely and simply the result of words that have to be used. I live in a world of acceptance and respond as needed. That is, until this last Friday at 7:54 PM. I received a telephone call from my Sweet Deifiúr, Paula, in which she was put in a place to use three words that I realize are both evil and hateful. For the first time in my life, I have discovered words that I find detestable, despicable, repugnant, and totally vile.
“I have leukemia.”
I have spoken many times about this wonderful woman. She is the boulder which makes up the foundation in my life. Yes, there is God, and there is the miracle of recovery which bolsters me in many ways, but when the rubber hits the road my sister is where I go to when things go wrong. She is responsible for much of what I have become. My name, which I am so proud of, came from her. When I was small she protected me. She has cheered me those few times where I have experienced success in life, and helped me cry when things were not well. She not only reads every word I write, but looks forward to it. The first time she was able to walk into a bookstore and purchase a book with my writing in it she called me at work to let me know. She was so excited to show her friends that book that she made me sign it as if I were Hemingway or Steinbeck. She passed it around the house at a holiday dinner showing my signature and telling everyone “This will be worth a lot of money someday!” If I never make another penny writing, that memory tells me that I am a writer of import. Anything that is important to her, you better damn well believe, is important.
On that dreadful night that she had to call me to inform me that our màthair had went to live with Jesus and His Mother, I was driving home, in the rain, from picking up a pizza. In the aftermath of that event I shared with her the absurdity of attempting to drive while I wept uncontrollably. When she called me the other night, the first question was whether I was home and not in my truck. Even with the news she had been given, she worried more about me then herself.
My first reaction was an emptiness and hollow feeling. I told her that I had to think about it and would call her the next day. I am a delayed reaction type of person. News, bad or good, always takes a while to sink in. This time it took twelve hours. I watched my usual Friday night shows and went to bed only to lay there awake and distraught. My mind did not race as it was likely to do. I just kept repeating, both aloud and in my head, those three appalling words. Perhaps if I repeated them enough they would prove false. This thought came to me without regard to the fact that she doesn’t lie to me.
I will not readily surrender to the idea that I had started the grieving process. I do recall that I told God that he should give that dreaded ailment to me instead of her. I questioned the fairness of it happening. I chose to demand solution from Him instead of asking for grace for myself and my sister. I received the same result as when I’ve used this tactic before…nothing. Absent a viable solution to my predicament, I lay there and cried.
I thought of writing this piece, and realized that I had no muse. I laid in bed all night and well into the next morning. When I called her it seemed surreal. It still seems surreal. She told me to write about it. Not, I think, for any other reason that she understands the calming effect writing gives me. Once more, in the face of a potentially lethal disease, she thought of me before herself.
What I find most distressing is my selfishness. I am fixated on what is going to happen to me. How am I going to go on if I possibly lose her? I look at some of the words I used earlier in this piece and can only attribute them to me. Detestable, despicable, repugnant, and totally vile is how I am feeling. I do not deserve her, and she most definitely deserves better then she has gotten from her kid brother.
I know that there are many treatments and that many people survive the malady. My sister is a strong person who takes care of herself, and I am confident that she can certainly be one of those people. I am not a fatalistic person and have and will pray for the best. I will also pray for the knowledge to cease being such a selfish bastard, and how to be a better brother. This time I believe I will approach God differently. My Sweet Deifiúr would not ever speak to the Almighty like I do when I am upset. She would ask nicely, and with reverence. Please God, keep her safe and let me be the brother she deserves.