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Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Do Not Welcome Death

Do you ever wonder why we do what we do? We get up every morning. Go to work. Come home. Rinse. Repeat. For what? Is it a sense of pride? Duty? Faith? Why do we feel that we have to do all of these things just to clarify our existence?

I have been relatively lucky in my life. I have no major health problems. My wife and child are healthy. My family is fine. Yet, I get that “Why me?” mentality over something stupid like traffic being backed up because people choose to gawk at an accident on the opposite side of the road. Some are not so lucky.

My next door neighbor’s grandson, all of a whopping 15, just got an expiration date. He has Huntington’s Disease. His mother had it and died when he was five, about two years before we moved in next door. As a child of someone with HD, he has a 50% chance of being diagnosed with it and there is no cure. Most people with HD die of pneumonia while some die of heart disease and some by suicide. Either they choose to take their own life, rather than suffer the terminal effects, or the psychiatric symptoms lead to suicidal tendencies. To this end, this boy has about 15 years left according to a timeline established by doctors who diagnosed him. His life is half over in other words.

To make matters, worse he is currently in a facility for juvenile offenders. His life has not been the greatest, prior to being diagnosed with HD. Trouble with anger, authority, drugs, and vandalism have led him to be a risk to others and being in this facility mandates that he be treated for whatever he’s going through. I don’t know much about that situation but from what I was told, he refused treatment while he was still living at home because of the effects.

Think about it. This kid is in a correctional facility, probably until he turns 18 and pretty much has no plans to walk the straight and narrow after that. He’ll most likely end up back in the system for a majority of his life. I’m not even sure if he knows his life expectancy, yet. Would you want to know?

If you were given five years to live and your life is pretty much screwed anyway, given your history, what would you do? Get a job? Pay taxes? Obey the rules? What’s to say you don’t just decide to go balls deep and rob a bank with a year left to live. Go somewhere and just live out the last year with nothing but id satisfying actions. Why not?

And people wonder why I question things the way I do.

I’ve seen an 11 year old girl fight with everything she has to beat bone cancer, only to die a year later when it came back to knock her ass to the mat.

I’ve seen my mother-in-law endure 12 years of renal cell cancer survival, have a brain tumor removed, part of her pancreas, reproductive system, and go through chemo therapy to beat cancer. Then die of a brain hemorrhage a month after she was given a clean bill of health.

And now this. And I’m not going to get all prolific and prophetic about Rocky Mountain climbing and going 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu. What’s the point of that? Not everyone wants to be cheery and Zen about dying. Some want to be bitter and angry and self satisfying. And you know what? They have every right to feel that way. Do I think they should do whatever they want at the expense of others’ safety and quality of life? No. If you want to feel that way, fine. Stick to your own path. I would. It serves no purpose to drag everyone else down with you but by all means, I totally agree with the sentiment of feeling lost and betrayed by some sort of higher power.

To those that say, “This is a test” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, I say, “This WILL kill me, so why bother fighting the way you want me to fight.” There’s no faith or belief strong enough to justify, in my mind, that this is something that is planned or expected. This is flat out life being a dick.

At 15 he has no hope to have a family. They usually discourage people with HD from having kids because of the 50/50 shot of passing it to a child. He has two half siblings, one of which has it, full blown. I couldn’t imagine my life without my kid in it, but to think that I could be responsible for passing a debilitating and terminal illness to them is horrific.

But I still have a shot. I’m a big coward that values life too much. Of course, it doesn’t help when you push almost 280lbs at 37. I’m trying. When your kid draws a picture of your family and you take up half the drawing, you know it’s time to do something. Granted, I’m still lazy as f**k, so it’s slow going but I don’t plan on checking out anytime soon. I hope I never get to a point in my life where I say, “I welcome death. I’m ready.” If I have to tangle with Death, I hope he plans on a fight. He’ll be a couple of bones short when he gets done with me. I’m making him work for my soul. Count on that, the Reaper ought to fear me.

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