The Healing Trip (Part 5)

My brother would need another "J-Tube" or, as it is commonly called in medical circles, a jejunostomy tube, to receive nourishment. The J-Tube is a soft plastic tube which is placed, in Van's case, through the skin and into the intestine beneath the stomach. Two years ago, when a doctor had placed his first J-Tube, it had been a temporary thing. Something to sustain him until he could, again, eat. This time, it would be forever. Immediately before surgery, his surgeon gave reports of optimism, telling us that he was going to "go in and see if I can't get that bad-boy out of there." That bad boy ... meaning the tumor. The lyrics to "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" fluttered across my mind. Do what yo

The Healing Trip (Part 4)

The news that my brother's cancer would end in death hung between us--him in one chair, me in another. Monitors beeped outside his hospital room while inside the television sent a low hum into the empty spaces. We would not be capable to telling anyone what, exactly, was on at this moment any more than we felt able to yet share the doctor's latest revelation. "Six months to a year," sounded somewhere between finite and hopeful. Yet, I knew. "I want you to do something for me," I said around the knot in my throat. "What's that?" he asked. "I want you to help me through this by making sure all your finances are in order. I want you to tell me who you want to have what. And ..." I took a deep b

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