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10 October 2007

An unfortunate family reunion

A nasty bout of homesickness overtook Evelyn, and she couldn’t recover that nauseating omen lingering in her abdomen. So, succumbing to the condition, she dropped all previous plans and battled through traffic back to her hometown. She burst, delirious, through the door. Saw a blotchy-faced family and the illness spread throughout her body. They cried It’s bad blood! A (we hope temporary) death sentence for her father. It makes no sense! They wept in unison. He’s feeling better than ever before. She looked skeptically at her newly defeated dad. Surrendered disbelief and squeezed him tight, sobbing into his sunken shoulders. Soon as she recomposed, daughters and mother rushed him to the hospital. Morbid Evelyn recited a eulogy silently and watched with eyes like tomato slices as a blind bottle-blond nurse stabbed at father’s veins. Together they cursed the patriarch’s toxic circulatory system.
They left late with reluctance and returned the next morning. Kept him company before the doctors pierced a port through his chest. I’m a tough guy. Whimpered sick and dying (at least for now) father. The telephone lines swelled with condolences and well wishes. Pots of pasta accumulated in the refrigerator from well-meaning outsiders but the girls back home (mother and daughters torn from their husband and father by that damned disease that translates like a death sentence) couldn’t even bring themselves to lift the fork.
For the first time in young Evelyn’s life, her father’s existence had proven transitory (just like hers, but she was too young yet to realize outside of isolated incidents late at night when she’d mourn her own mortality). She repented remembering too many occasions in which she’d declined his invitations to quality time, grieved the movies they never saw together and art galleries never visited. And mid-yearn she coughed. I’m sick! She gasped, and so she couldn’t visit her much sicker father – into whose body the doctors pumped a barrage of chemicals intended to murder his malevolent marrow.
Family from both coasts and both sides flew in. They’d planned their trips for a birthday celebration, but instead took the opportunity for a last visit. What an unfortunate family reunion! After the hospital, they went to the State Fair and pretended they didn’t think of that hourglass they’d seen in their father-husband-uncle-brother-in-law, or the complications that’d come when (if!) time ran out. At night, they played with their dinners and swallowed sleeping pills for dessert, exchanging sad smiles and passing out in their respective rooms not before praying for a positive prognosis.
When they said goodbye, they hoped it wouldn’t be their last. And sure enough, after only four weeks (hellish, though, for him, all chemoed in the hospital!) father came home, feeling bald but fine. All rising action and resolution, Evelyn smiled, Life is not literature.

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