| Everyone has bad news occasionally.Maybe I should say eventually, or even repeatedly. It should not come as a surprise at some point, but it always does.
Today my middle brother said, "I want to tell you something while you're all here." His daughter had left the room, so I even wondered if it was about her. Only my father, my youngest brother, and I were there. He told us not to look at him, while he told us. So we all looked elsewhere in the dining room. He told us he had cancer.
We were in stunned silence. He had spoken so quietly, I wasn't sure I'd heard him. The youngest one said, "Where?" He answered by tapping his chest and said, "Lung". I couldn't believe what I was hearing. My elderly father said nothing.
He went on to say things about chemo and his stomach and I was in a state of confusion. Then I realized, he's divorced, he's alone. I did the only thing I could think of. I walked over to him, leaned over and put my arms around his shoulders, my face against his. I tried not to choke up as I said, "You're not alone. You have people who love you." I just held him, and he just sat there for a moment. He was trying not to choke up. I let go, and he said, "That's the problem. I have too many people to hurt. If it was just me, it'd be easy."
Then the pieces came together. The daughter lives six hours away. She's an RN, and he trusts her opinion. She had come days earlier just to go to the doctor with him. His boss went, too. How about that for a boss? Sure, he's concerned about how reliable an employee he'll be, but employers do FMLA all the time without going to the doctor with you. So I know he has a good support system. He really isn't alone. He has friends who will check on him. His daughter will be here for a few days every week to go through after-chemo with him. I volunteered my dad to take him on Tuesday, and I'll pick him up. When he's ready for surgery, the most experienced surgeon in this kind of cancer and near us is in DC. His daughters will take him for that.
After we had time to soak it in, out in the driveway,the youngest brother got around to joking and giving some comic relief. They care about each other and it shows. But my role is to be the serious one, to say the prayers, to hold the faith. I'll be the one to take him food, or get him to stay with us if he has a very bad reaction to the chemo.
Supposedly, this is the kind where you take chemo all your life. It never goes into remission. But people have been known to adjust and hang in there for a long time. But family is always family. We'll go through it together. All of lives will change. You can face these things easier for yourself than you can for someone you love. But you stand by the people you care about.