Now what?


I’m at a loss.

I’m not sure what I’m feeling, or what is the proper reaction to the news I got today about my brother. He has cancer. Intestinal cancer that has spread to his lymph nodes. That’s all they really know for now. He’s going in for surgery next month to remove his appendix as well as some of his small intestine and colon.

My sister-in-law sent out a broadcast email with the news. You know the news is never going to be good when it starts out saying “we love you” and apologizing for letting you know via email. Right after I read the email my boss walked into my office to tell me he didn’t want me taking tomorrow off (which I had requested earlier in the day). When I looked up with tears in my eyes and told him what had happened, he slowly backed out of the office saying “that’s OK. Take the day off. Really. No problem.” Poor guy, he has no idea how to react to a woman’s tears.

To say my brother and I aren’t close is a bit of an understatement. I’ve written about our strained relationship here and here and here. For years, I’ve pretty much said the only thing my brother and I have in common is DNA, and DNA alone does not a relationship make. I’m not sentimental about family. Never have been.

Yet . . .

He’s my brother and he has cancer. And while there is a possibility that we may have many long years ahead of us to nurse our grudges and continue the estrangement, now there is a good chance that we may not.

So, now what?

5 responses »

  1. I’m sorry to read this. I have never been in the same situation so I won’t even try to say I know how it feels. It seems odd to me that I am saying this to someone I have never met, but after keeping up with you overthe last weeks, I get an idea of who you are, and so I hope for you, and your brother.

  2. It is hard to have your family circle diminish whether through the passing of people or people taking themselves out of connection. Some ‘family’ are just bound to deny the common-shared bits and create the gaping hole that shocks, then hurts, then scabs over, finally leaving you with a bruise that still hurts to touch. If you touch it to see if it still hurts, you don’t know whether to be surprised when it does or surprised if it doesn’t. Keep being open and being you. You sound pretty darned cool. Your brother’s kids are going to be glad to have their ‘crazy aunt’.

  3. Thanks for all the kind thoughts. I appreciate it. Shussmallworld, you’re absolutely right, there was definitely a shock when I realized I still cared. I felt as if I was able to hold that relationship with some equanimity. Yet, I got that kick in the gut that only comes with attachment. So, I guess I have to admit I still love my stupid brother, even though in the past he has been a close-minded, selfish prick. As a friend of mine reminded me, we have pretty intense karma with our siblings, and even though I would like to think the only thing we share in common is DNA, it’s more than that.

  4. Congrats on your progress with Tangerine (who, I assume, is a cat). I have a couple of semi-feral cats in the house, too. One has taken just about as long to trust me, and the other is still a work in progress.

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