"I suppose I am really not sure where to begin after that bombshell that you dropped the last time we talked. I'm nearly as speechless now as I was then."
"Well, I seem to remember telling you that you did not want to know, that we should have talked about something else, but you were very insistent. You can be very insistent, you know. You can really be very insistent."
"Again, I think my persistence is one of my better qualities. It helps me to get what I want -- in this case, information. It helps me to get what I need, and I don't apologize for it."
"Well, it doesn't bother me now, but it was pretty annoying, is pretty annoying most of the time, whether you are meaning to be helpful or not. It's annoying. And I told you that you did not want to know."
"I need to try to understand what your thinking is here. Why have you not sought treatment? What do you see as the long-term plan? Give me something I can work with, please."
"Well, it's simple really. For starters, it's been nearly a year and a half since I first noticed the bump at this point, and so likely whatever damage will be done is pretty much done now; not much chance at this point of turning the clock back. And that would be if I had money to get health insurance, which I don't. And even if I could get health insurance, I am uninsurable, as it is a pre-existing condition, so it would not be covered. And anything that is 'means-tested' would likely require me to turn over the little money I have before I could be treated 'for free.' And I need that money to keep living, to pay for my car insurance, and gas for my car, and to keep my phone working."
"But I am sure that there must be a way that you could get the life-saving treatment that you need. There must be a way. I don't think you have investigated all of your options. I cannot believe that there is nothing that can be done; that you have a death sentence here."
"It's interesting that you put it that way. But we all are living with 'death sentences,' aren't we? I mean, we are all going to die, right? Isn't it really just a question of from what cause, and when? I mean religious beliefs and spirituality notwithstanding, we are all going to go, aren't we? And so, in my case, it will be sooner than I might have wished or planned, and it might not be how imagined the end to be, but it will be the same result as for everybody else, won't it?"
"But we are talking about your life. You could have many more years. There is so much that you could do. You have daughters -- don't you want to see them all grown, and with their lives underway? Aren't there things left for you to do?"
"Sure, it would be great to have many more years, but I am not at all sure that I want to, in all honesty. I see how rough life gets as you get really old. I see how much of the fun is sucked out of it. I see how routines become everyday, and how life is relegated to a series of habits and duties, with all of the sunshine washed out of it. And I am not sure that I want to live that way; I am not at all sure that that is really living -- I think it might just be 'existing.' And I see old people who lose their hearing, and their eyesight, and their memory, and I wonder if that is the path that I want to walk. And I don't think it is. As for my daughters, well, I have loved them and done the best that I could to set them on the right path, and where they go from here is up to them. I love them, and I will miss them, but I would feel the same twenty or thirty years from now. It's really just a difference in timing, not in feeling."
"But what about her? If you die, she loses you, and you lose her. If your love is as strong as you claim, don't you want as much time as possible with her? I mean, you haven't won her back, so if you die, you've lost her forever, haven't you?"
"Well, without getting into my religious beliefs, I don't think that my dying causes me to lose her, or her to lose me. But even if it did, what can be done about it? Eventually, we will both die. One before the other, or both at the same time -- it doesn't matter. This life is not a permanent state; it is very much a temporary one, and those who try to make it otherwise are fooling only themselves, and at that, not very well. I think what is really important about love is also what is really important about life: the quality and depth of the love, and the quality and depth of the life. Anything else is simply delaying the inevitable. And as I tried to tell her, spending the rest of my life with her is not really an investment in infinity or eternity: there is a clock, and however quietly, it is ticking."
"You sound so fatalistic, so resigned to this, and I just cannot understand that. I cannot understand how you can be so matter-of-fact about this whole thing. To be honest with you, it is downright eerie to me; it is almost freakish."
"I think it would be eerie and freakish to think of it any other way. Would I rather things have turned out differently? Yes, I think so. Can I change anything now? No, I can't. So I take the cards that I have been dealt, and I do the best that I can. I keep working, and I keep living, and I go on until I can't go on anymore."
"I really need some time to absorb all of this. We need to pick this up again later."
"Well, I'd say something like 'Take all the time you need,' but given the circumstances, don't take any more than you need."
[to be continued]
January 20, 2009.
Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.