Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cosmic Injustice

We're in Melbourne, finally. After all the false starts with the kids having been ill. It almost got to the point where Packrat had to drag me kicking and screaming onto the plane, well, metaphorically speaking. It was horrendous trying to leave especially when I got the sense that the kids actually got wind of the fact that we were leaving and were especially clingy.

Now that we're here, it's a different story. We've managed to get some sleep, despite the fact that I've succumbed to the kids' virus. I still miss the kids horribly but the distance has given me a little bit of perspective and I now realise that it really is a break that I need and possibly what a doctor would have been prescribed if I had seen one. Packrat and I have been able to go walk around and hold hands, eat and not worry or feel guilty about spending time out and away from the children. And all this, with the safe knowledge that the children are in safe hands and though they are still sick, they're on the way to recovering.

Because Melbourne is a second home to us, we don't do much except catch up with old friends and walk round the city. Over the years, the number of people we've had to catch up with have become dwindled because more of our friends have moved on and no longer live in Melbourne. Most of the ones that are still here are the natives- I use this term loosely because I'm not talking about aborigines here. One of the natives I try to see is my old uni professor. Like most of the educators in my life, he made quite an impression on me, opening my eyes to what being an academic and a researcher was really about and impressing upon me how education didn't exist in the four walls of the university. I was saddened earlier this year to hear that he'd had a re-occurence of a brain tumour that had afflicted him about 15 years ago. I spent the last few months constantly reminding myself to find out how he was doing. The only problem was that, well, life got in the way and it was one of those things that I kept pushing back. When I got here, I had no more excuse and guiltily rang him. He didn't sound his usual self and when I announced that I was in Melbourne for a few days, he said regretfully that he couldn't meet me. Not because he was busy but because he was preparing for surgery. Surgery because he had lung cancer.

My mind struggled to wrap its head round that fact. Didn't he just have a brain tumour removed? Isn't there an unwritten rule somewhere out there that states that a person should not have to be afflicted with more than one cancer a year. I tried desperately, to keep the conversation going while my mind tried to process the severity of what he was saying. You always hear that when people announce such ominouos news, there is a silence akin to crickets chirping and I really didn't want him to feel that awkwardness. I tried hard to keep the conversation light, telling him about the latest antics of the kids and discussing developmental milestones with him. He was afterall, my psychology professor. But we kept going back to the issue of his cancer. It was inevitable that it had cast a pall over our conversation just as I'm sure it had, over his life. He talked about how distressing it was and how unfair it was to be struck by two cancers in a year.

It saddened me greatly to hear who I saw as a great man made so dimunitive by his illness. I remembered how he very proudly announced, somewhat Marx-like, that religion was a crutch and he didn't see it necessary. So when I felt moved to tell him that since we couldn't meet him, I would pray for him, I expected him to scoff at it. But his reaction was so subdued and so grateful that I would actually do that for him.

Everything that is happening to him is actually my greatest fears for myself and my loved ones. And I cannot imagine the anguish and the fears that he and his family has to go through. I always threaten Packrat, especially when he is about to sink his teeth into a particularly deep fried and unhealthy meal that I'd be very pissed off with him if he died on me. He retorted one day that it was fine if I was because he wouldn't be around to see it. That did not make me feel any better. The nightmares that always leave me in tears are always the ones where something happens to him and I'm always grateful to be able to wake up and comfort myself with the reality that nothing has happened to Packrat or to the kids.

But to realise that it really wasn't a nightmare and that reality is worse than the dream itself, what can there to be to console one?

It's cosmic injustice in the greatest way.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:28

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