To the cancer growing in my boyfriend’s dad’s brain:
You’ve been working your way up to this point for awhile, I know. While we all sat there at the dinner table, nervous at our first meeting, pushing salad and spaghetti around on our plates, you were sinking your way through his skin, seeping into his bloodstream. He woke up early every morning to make it to the gym to keep his heart working the way it was supposed to while you were changing the structure of the cells in his brain and his lungs. His lungs, which were well-maintained and clean, apart from the germ you planted in them, the seed that is growing into two spots, one on each side, symmetric and neat and sinister.
You have, with your patient disruption of regular cell production, disrupted the production of our everyday lives. We had plans, my boyfriend and I, or rather, we didn’t yet. I remember saying, all huffy and whiny and entitled-like, how hard it is to make plans these days with another twentysomething. How tough it is to coordinate the trajectory of your life so it matches up with another person’s, because that’s what really matters, or something. It isn’t, by the way. I know that now, so, thank you.
We would go to New York, we’d said, someday. I’ve already been and seen the man behind the curtain, but he hasn’t yet, and I wanted him to see so he would know. I would find a way to write journalism-things, and he would work in marketing, or he would write a TV show like he’s always wanted to. He would go to graduate school, or I would go to graduate school, or we would go together. We would find an apartment with a yard and enough space for us: a boy, a girl, a cat, and a dog. We would take his washer and my dryer. We would see the world, and then one day we would come back home, we’d said.
We are funny and young to make plans, aren’t we? You knew that, but I didn’t, not until last week when you gave him that rager of a headache and he found you there, just inside his left temple. Now, suddenly, we are not floating characters waiting to take journeys, thinking the waiting is itself a journey. We are men of action. We are capable people whose skills have become necessary. We don’t get to choose when to grow up, apparently.
I would like to say that I hate you, but everyone does that already. “Fuck cancer,” they say on Reddit, or whatever. I’m afraid that if I hate you it will give you the opportunity to mutate my cells, too, and I need to preserve them. I wear sunblock every day now, even though I know it’s too late.
Two weeks ago, our lives looked like one thing, and now they look like another. Congratulations on your achievement. For all our hard work, we couldn’t have done the same. Certainly not as quickly.
Kat Greene spends most of her time writing about things she can’t do and money she doesn’t have. She uses her blog, Internet Kat, as an outlet for cursing artfully and presenting a wrap-up of everything she finds in the Internet rabbit-hole each day.