Sunday, June 01, 2014

Jay Lake (June 6, 1964-June 1, 2014)

All the things I want to say don't feel right except, fuck cancer. It took my father, also at age 50, and other fine people I've known since then. I have family and friends right now who are fighting cancer. Today ....

I don't want to say Jay lost his fight with cancer. But he died early this morning, and there's no way around that.

There's all this stuff floating around in my head, about how his battle made significant contributions to medical science, about Jay Wake, about how amazingly prolific and inventive he was ....

Was.

And that part of him is still with us, in the hearts of the people closest to him, in his work, in the genome project based on his cancer's DNA, on his blog.

That doesn't feel true, not at this moment. When I reread his books and stories, the telepathic construct called writing will be transmitting his thoughts and ideas into my mind, and I might feel, during that moment of immersion, that I've gone back in time and he's talking to me.

Small comfort for his daughter. Small comfort for any daughter.

Today, cancer ended the life of a unique and talented human being, as cancer is wont to do.

Perhaps one of the reasons this disease feels particularly cruel is because it almost seems treatable, and sometimes it is. Certain ones. If caught early enough. Sometimes, but not always, for good. Often, treatment delays the inevitable just long enough to put our affairs in order and to say goodbye.

It's such a twisted, evil thing, this disease of our body where our very cells rewrite themselves in a way that destroys our lives, that we've poured vast riches and engaged some of our most brilliant minds to try to find a cure. Maybe this battle will have proved to be a decisive one. Maybe this man's battle will help others not just survive a little longer, but maybe thrive and live long, healthy lives.

This isn't grief I'm feeling. It's anger and frustration, and no little fear, too.

I live in a place and time of great privilege. To live to age 50 was a much rarer gift not so long ago, and in many places it still is. In the modern, western world, it's too young. It doesn't feel right to ask for more. But I do.

I'm mortal. That can't be changed. I can accept exterior forces; storms, viruses, famines, car accidents–just about anything. But this thing, cancer ... that's a betrayal. That's treason, and a self-destructive, mindless, pointless sort of treason that gains the disease itself no future existence of its own. It buries itself when it buries us. It's a suicidal thing that shoots everything around it before it shoots itself in the head. The mindless, senseless, pointlessness of that enrages me as few other things can.

I think the reason there is so much research and money poured into cancer study and treatment is because I'm not alone in singling out cancer as being a particularly horrible disease. There are other things that kill people, things that can be prevented and treated, suffering that could be eased for pennies on the dollars that we spend to fight cancer. I'm not sure that makes sense, but I'm throwing in my support to fight this villain. Not because it's more likely that I'll die from cancer than a car wreck or heart attack.

But because I hate cancer.

_________________________


May his daughter, family and friends find some comfort in this time of terrible grief.

2 comments:

Kai Jones said...

May his memory be a blessing.

Kami said...

Thank you.