Last week brought very unsettling news about my uncle’s condition. Further details of the PET scan were disclosed; not only is the cancer manifested in his brain and lungs but also in his bones (saturating his femur and humerus/radius/ulna), including his skull and spinal column. It’s no exaggeration to say that the cancer is sprinkled throughout, even engulfing, his entire body.
He was having seizures—not the flailing, tongue-swallowing kind but the paralyzed, eyes-glazed-over kind—and quite literally speaking like a crazy man. He repeated himself uncontrollably and says he was hearing everything backwards, almost like a big “opposite day.” His behavior was erratic and honestly, I was convinced we would never see our “good old Pete” again. In fact, I was preparing myself to let him go altogether.
The doctors surmised his medications were creating the volatile situation. Prescriptions were altered, and Pete’s reversal was almost immediate.
We visited for a couple of hours yesterday, and it was perhaps the best weekend I’ve had in the last month or so. Though more frail and reserved, Pete was alert and engaged in conversation. We sat out on their big front porch talking, laughing and joking. It was truly wonderful, almost like old times. Almost.
We didn’t used to hug a whole lot, but that has changed. Now every departure is accompanied by a hug. Now every hug serves as a reminder that it could be the last. You know, now that I’m forced to think about it, maybe that bittersweet possibility should be considered more frequently in our daily interactions. Each breath we take, each encounter with a loved one could be our last.