91 / by Deborah Clague

I spent my Christmas break at the hospital. Not as a patient, but rather a support. The first day though, I wasn't much of one. There are moments when you try and be strong, where you try and deflect the gravity of a situation through sheer will or just ignorance, but fail miserably. I wrongly assumed that because I had spent literally every night of the previous two months crying that I could hold it together for an hour. But I was wrong. And I knew I would be.

My grandfather was there the first day when we arrived, as he had been nearly every day for the previous two months. Taking the bus or, depending on the time of day for which the appointment was scheduled, hitching a ride with my aunt who worked there. It was something he had to do, even though his mobility wasn't always the greatest. Family bonds are strong. A part of me regretted ever moving away, as now I couldn't be there when I needed to be. But I would be there now, for two weeks, fully, completely and in spirit always. We stayed in the waiting room and the weight of reality became even heavier. There was a female patient around my age with her boyfriend. I could see her shaking as she was called. There was an older woman, all alone. I could sense her resignation. Over Christmas break, I often encountered the same faces here. In a way, it was a community. You didn't really have to talk to the person seated next to you, but there was an understanding and there was a bond. I like to think that it was in strength, rather than the condition that brought them all here. 

I had mentioned my time in Kentucky previously. This was the last period of my life where I was carefree. Where I didn't have a fuckin' cloud of worry hanging in my peripheral vision that resembles a violent, shapeless scribble. There are days I feel I can actually see it. And I always hear it. It's been good for work and as a creative outlet, as the intensity with which I try to avoid it manifests itself in ideas and action that I had probably previously just phoned in. But it's there and I know one day it may manifest itself into action as well, even though I pray it doesn't. 

On October 26, 2013, 91 days prior to this journal entry being posted, my father informed me that doctors had given him one year to live. After seeking medical advice on his difficulty swallowing, he was informed that it was caused by cancer. Esophagus and thorax to be specific. I will write about this moving forward for two reasons: one being that this journal is an outlet for me and I can't think of another single event that has changed my life and outlook like this. My father is my best friend, mentor, sentry and rock. I cannot imagine my life without him in it. I hope this takes a positive turn and I can document it here. Secondly, this was completely unexpected for everyone in my family. My father doesn't smoke and rarely drinks: two of the main causes of this particular strain of cancer. If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone. I'm hoping my writings will educate on this matter and get people to get tested and treated as soon as they believe symptoms appear. There is a much greater chance of survival the earlier it is caught. 

My father's radiation treatment mask.

My father's radiation treatment mask.