What Broke My Father’s Heart

Have you read this New York Times piece? I’ve been obsessed over it. It’s a perfect article, where there’s the narrator’s personal story contextualized with an overview of society’s attitude of preserving the longevity over quality of life. In the story, the author’s father receives a pacemaker that keeps him going well past his body would naturally go. He deteriorates into a sort of mute corpse that the author and author’s mother have to take care of.

The article really freaked me and my mom out, because of course, duh, as you guys know, my father is a cancer survivor (and while he did receive treatment that prolonged his life, in no way is his story extreme as this guy’s). I don’t often talk about this stuff (here at least) because I keep this blog up to remind me of the happy and wonderful aspects of life, but the human body is a frail vessel, especially after radiation. My dad can’t hear out of his left ear and cannot see out of his right ear. His teeth keep falling out, they’re all unrooting. He keeps on rocking, showing more energy than your average 20-year-old purely from the strength of his spirit. In fact, his entire survival, I believe, is due to his stamina, his character, and his extraordinary positivity. If it were me, I would just grab a bottle of whiskey, lie down under my desk, and just die. I would just give up.

Despite these wonderful facts, there are times where fallout from his illness make all of us feel sad, tired, and angry, which I think is okay. I was talking about these things with a co-worker, who has actually faced similarly difficult health situations, and she kept saying “But you have the baby, right? You’re looking on the bright side?” and the entire point of this entry is that I want to state that that kind of support is ANNOYING. I wouldn’t go out of my way to say this stuff unless this person was trying to be my friend, but if you want to be my friend, you need to be able to live with the dark. Sometimes, life hands you a sh*t sandwich and it’s perfectly okay to be bummed out about it. Not forever, mind you, but you can feel like dirt for a spell. I cannot deal with these sunny, Holly Hobbie attitudes that insist that being positive is the only reaction you’re permitted to have to life. One positive does not cancel out a negative, because we are not equations. There are certain situations in life where it is absolutely appropriate to feel like cr*p. Thank you.

And sorry about all the cursing. I just read twitter.com/shitmydadsays.com, and the dad in those quotes cusses every other word. His undue influence is coming out all over this woodwork and has me shaking with laughter alone at my computer. Check it out, dude.s

3 Replies to “What Broke My Father’s Heart”

  1. Did Barbara Ehrenreich write a book about the culture of positivity?
    I did have to second-guess myself when my friends starting calling me Crabby instead of Gabby. But bring on the dark.

  2. Also, here’s what I didn’t write before, for fear of offending someone: Thinking positive won’t cure my cancer, and just relaxing won’t get me pregnant.
    If it works for you, I’m happy for you, but don’t sell it to me.

  3. i love crabby. ha ha. i think in general, yeah, you’re better off having a positive attitude, then you will tend to see more good than bad with what comes your way, but if you get cancer, i think you have permission to feel like cr*p. you just do! and it’s annoying when people start spinning it as a positive event — i think the way you react to bombshell events can be positive or productive, but cancer itself or not getting pregnant or whatever is not the blessing.

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