Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's Not a Battle

I have always been a reader of obituaries. Maybe I always knew I’d live in a surround of death. Or maybe I always loved the snapshot portraits of people thru the lens of their death. Now, since John’s cancer began I read them also to see the mentions of cancer, of colon cancer, of whether the illnesses were short or long. I see how many die after a “Battle”, “Brave Battle, or “Courageous Battle” with cancer.

Does no one have the courage to refuse a battle? To surrender willingly? To hand over the territory or treasure without a fight?

But then I remember: in most cases these death notices are written by the survivors, by those who watched what they think of as a “battle”. How many times was it not a battle but just doing the next thing? Whose military language is this and why is it necessary to talk about fighting, battles, enemies and winning and losing when this is life and death. We get both. One isn’t a win and the other a loss. Humans live and then die. That’s the whole package and it’s a “win-win.”

I have this same cranky annoyance when I hear advocates talk about “curing cancer”. I mean, if we do will all the people who die of cancer get to stay alive forever and ever? No, they would then get to die of something else. In most cases something more awful than cancer. We will die. Why is that so hard to grasp?

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