Thursday, July 20, 2017

John McCain and How I Lost My Mother

Fairfax, Virginia 1998, a weekend.

My mother wasn't herself. She was irritated. Visibly upset. She snapped at us and then laid on couch, rubbing her head. I was yet 18, but as she dismissed my siblings one early Summer afternoon in Virginia, I knew something was wrong. This wasn't a sinus infection as diagnosed. That day my siblings had practice, they were late to practice and my mother refused to drive them. I didn't have my license, and if I recall correctly, mind you a big "if", I hopped in the car and drove my younger brother and younger sister to their respective practices. My mother all the while, on the couch, alone in our living room, staring at the ceiling. It felt like the hottest day of the year.

Twenty-four hours later, my mother was in surgery, having a brain tumor removed. Never was life the same.

I'm unsure if any of the above is real, to be honest, it all becomes a blur. I've tried, for nearly twenty years, to piece together the horror of finding out my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, but I can't. I simply can't. I've been angry at myself, the world, and my God since. I wish I never got in that car. I wish we spotted it sooner. I wish a lot of things, but most of all, I wish I had my mother back.

Yesterday was a shit day. Work was shitty. Boss was on my case. I didn't have time to have a proper lunch. I nearly re-injured my back. Petty first world problems. Then I saw the news alert that John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer. Don't cry at work. It's an ugly, frowned upon thing. I didn't, but I should've locked myself in a stall and at least let the moment in.

Anytime I hear anyone is diagnosed with brain cancer, it strikes an immediate and a gut-punching chord. No one, not even my worst enemy, deserves the tragedy of having someone they love suffer from brain cancer. It is not a forgiving disease. It is not a forgiving diagnosis. It is relentless. As a family, we saw our rock, our center deteriorate before our eyes. She fought, she faded, and then it was over in less than a year.

I will always have my critiques of John McCain, I've said plenty here in this space. The same goes for his wife and his children, but they don't deserve this. They deserve better. Everyone deserves better than what they're facing.

Re-watching McCain's interrogation of Comey gives me flashbacks, the similarities are there. The broken thought process, the shaky demeanor, and the internal struggle are present. I can close my eyes and see her on that couch. Head staring at the ceiling. Waving her arms. My siblings terrified. Me looking for the car keys. Her forgetting my name.

McCain visibly regressed in front of our eyes.

Brain cancer is all of the crap verses of cancer with a crescendo to the worst things about dementia in one heartbreaking coda. It leaves you weighted, exhausted, and numb. Forever changed.

John McCain served his country. He went through hell and back. Maybe just maybe he can overcome the inevitable one last time. The likelihood of that is none. Cancer sucks in that way. You can survive torture, you can survive being a prisoner of war, but something so minute can humble you in a second. It doesn't care who you are in the world, it comes and it collects.

My hope is McCain will bring to light that we can and we must do more about cancer. We need a more robust conversation about this, we need Senators to realize that when they attempt to pass bills that take away healthcare, it has real life consequences. No one is invincible. We all deserve an equal chance to fight and to live.

You can donate to End Brain Cancer here. And many other places.

Fuck Cancer.

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message


Mojo Rider said...

Sorry about your mom....and yes, cancer sucks. Watching a relative or loved one slowly go before your eyes does indeed change you forever. One should feel what they feel, weep when they have to, curse the heavens when needed, but I think the real lesson here is how hard it is when the bonds of love have been severed. And I sometimes think the real take away from these experiences is to learn more about self forgiveness, more empathy and compassion, and mostly love. Love yourself, love life, and yes---hard as it is---love others.

Mojo Rider

Desert Son said...


Hell of a day (Monday, 30 October 2017).

There’s actually so much going on that I can’t yet speak to it, save to say the sense of joy that a court in DC struck down the transgender troop ban and at least some portion of Team Dumpster Fire must be feeling a measure of the anxiety that has gripped so many of us for so long. It remains to be seen, of course, what may come of all this, especially among sociopaths and kleptocrats who only had eyes for the grift.

There’s a line from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that keeps springing to mind: “Hallelujah, holy shit, where’s the Tylenol?!”

So, on today, this day, instead of waxing too much longer, I just wanted to send a note asking how you are doing. I hope this finds you and your loved ones well. I know you have mentioned health challenges in the past, among all the other nightmares descending upon us, so I hope that on the eve of Candy Distribution Masquerade, you have some sense, at least, of wellness.

We continue.

Good night, from Chicago.

Still learning,