129 / by Deborah Clague

It's been 129 days since my father broke the news. During this time, I've experienced the best of humanity and the downright most repugnant. The best of the best has been my next-door neighbour, adopted grandmother and Queen Mum-lookalike Annie. When I informed her about the situation, she told me she would add a prayer for my father to the phone-circle that she has with several of her friends. She's been doing this for 18 weeks now because she believes in the power of positive thought.

I believe she is an absolute angel.

You don't need to be of religious bent to be moved by this type of gesture. I'm not. But knowing that someone with nothing to gain cares about you provides its own reassurance of faith that the world isn't as despondent a place as it sometimes appears. 

As often happens in life though, the seedy side tries to eclipse the light. There can be no yin without the yang.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is another neighbour who heard the news through the surprisingly agile gossip community of this 51 unit building. A few days in and still processing everything, I encountered this individual in the hallway wherein they informed me that they used to work in an old age home and have witnessed this particular diagnosis numerous times before. "Your father is going to die a horrible, brutal death" they warned me. Repeatedly, I might add. Standing there dumbfounded at the incredible lack of tact, sensitivity and brains, I continued on my merry way vowing not to let the "words of wisdom" from this village idiot bother me. But it did. It became all I could think of. I obsessed. 

Then my father intimated an encounter he had. A phone call one night from a real estate agent that somehow also heard about his diagnosis and tried to coax him to sell the family home. "I can get you a nice condo which would be better for someone in your condition" they told him. My father didn't say it outright, but I could tell he was clearly hurt by this. His life, his legacy, whittled down in the moment to some asshole trying to score a commission. Seen as nothing more than a dead man walking. No hope. No future. 


My father had his first follow-up appointment last week to determine how successful the initial radiation treatments were. While he is still frequently fatigued and not 100% of his old self, he surprised everyone with the progress made. The cancer appears to be stabilized. He will have to return for check-ups every three months, but this is three months extra time that we didn't expect to have 129 days ago. 

God is in the details.