She’s finally crying now.
The “Joy of the Lord” that kept a smile plastered on her face till now- after now- has given way. She goes into his room where he’s trapped, immobile, in his body. In his chair. His head balding and shorn. She sits with him and cries.
The cancer has rippled and warped his body too badly for him to live much longer. Despite everything they did. The special vitamin C treatments that they drove to Indiana for twice a week. The biological dentist who happily let them pay him to remove his root channel- to get out the ‘bacteria that caused his cancer’. And pay for a secondary excavation when the first had no effect. The trip to bask in a hyperbaric chamber that supposedly simulated the environment before The Great Flood, when people lived 800 years at a whack because the Pre-Flood Earth was so perfect.
Ken Ham said so, you know. Those evil, ungoodly, evolution-believing cancer doctors didn’t believe- because they were deceived by the devil. They were blinded from seeing that these things were the REAL medicine- far more effective than their worldly gobbledygook.
And now not even the worldly doctors can keep him from dying.
Sitting on the staircase with my flip phone. Others huddled, all around. Everyone crying.
I knew people died. A seemingly unending stream of great-grandparents and withered great uncles had died over the course of my high school years. Hospitals, family gatherings, potato salad.
This was college. This was some one I actually knew.
Some one who you talked to every day- who made jokes and laughed at them himself and juiced wheat-grass. Someone who was going to live.
I was trying to explain.
“… they were out walking at night, and climbed up on the roof of a building, and there was an uncovered ventilation shaft….”
His friend had been climbing up behind him. They had gotten to the night quiet roof, with the city spread out around them. A glowing life sized map of itself.
And he had disappeared. While his friend looked. No sound.
His body was lying in a pile of ash several stories down, bleeding at the seams.
He’d spent the weekend before with a couple of friends and their young son. He’d spent most of the trip tramping through the woods, teaching the kid how to whittle and cut walking sticks and be a mountain man. Now his fiance was weeping uncontrollably, rocking, brown banks of curls hiding her face. “He was going to be such a good father. He was going to be such a good father.”
I finished, and the silence on the other end makes me think I must not have explained well enough. The terrible feelings of loss and tragedy.
Finally a voice crackled at the other end of the line. It was a lot like my mother’s. It was my mother’s. It was cold.
“He sounds stupid“
The family had many children. Was it eight? was it twelve? The blur of so many huge families- the only people we associated with -the blur of so many children. So many faces. Meetings maybe one a month- maybe. Never enough time to get to know anyone.
I don’t remember.
They had many children. There had been a party at one of the family homes- we had not gone- but many of the families we knew had. All of them supersized groups- self gravitating, with self contained atmospheres- merged for the evening into a black hole of fake laughter and godliness.
The toddler had escaped. The sibling assigned to that toddler’s caretaking that evening- an girl in her early teens- had lost track of him in the crowded house.
The baby had escaped. Gotten out of the house. Toddled out onto the highway next to the house. Toddled across three lanes of traffic.
And been hit by a semi.
My mother sighed as she finished recounting the details of her phone conversation to the upturned faces and ears of her own many children.
“But you know, all his hair started falling out a few months ago, and she didn’t know why. Maybe there was something really wrong with him and this was just God’s way of sparing them.”
“Maybe it’s all for the best.”