Mortality

Dear President Trump,

I’ve not said anything about our brother-in-law (BIL) in over a week because he seemed to be progressing through the different phases of treatment as well as could be expected. It’s been hard for him to stay hydrated but they were managing until Monday night when BIL couldn’t retain any liquids and his husband had to take him to the ER. From there he was admitted to the hospital and he’s been in the ICU ever since. His brother who lives in Texas moved up his visit to today since, insanely, it looks like BIL may only have days left; not anything remotely like the median 20 months we were hoping for. Laura’s brother explained to me this morning that BIL’s cancer is so advanced that even if it had been caught back in April when his pain became severe and unrelenting, it would have been Stage IV with the same awful prognosis. This doesn’t give much comfort, but it has helped me put down the hot coals I’ve wanted to throw at the first doctor who missed the diagnosis.

When your brother Fred was dying, did you have trouble concentrating and were you more reactive to regular day-to-day stuff? It’s been really hard to stay present and to keep my frustration in check. I’ve needed to consciously pull on all my coping skills and have been doing a lot of menial tasks to have some sense of control. The other thing is that I’m vacillating between the minute details of what is happening with BIL and the sadness we are feeling and finding myself worrying that half the people around me in traffic are dealing with similarly awful heavy things. I’ve mostly been wondering how it would be to suddenly learn that your loved one was shot and killed or died in a car accident since what is happening to BIL feels sudden and horrible like I imagine those things to be. Of course they are very different circumstances, but they do share a certain out-of-left-fieldness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Before I sign off, I just want to share the one bright spot of the day, which was yet another bumper sticker: “World Peace Starts With Your Turn Signal.” In other words, world peace starts with simple, simple gestures that make life safer, easier, and clearer for those around us.

May we be safe from whatever might come at us.
May we be happy to communicate and use our signals.
May we all be so fortunate as to have healthy, non-violent deaths.
May we be intentional peacemakers in our big and our small actions.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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