Aug 3, 2012


My father was only 48 when he died of lung cancer. Looking back on that time in our lives, which by now has been reduced to a scattered mosaic of thoughts and recollections, one thing stands out, and still remains with me to this day: the utter unfairness of that. It was shattering to lose him in general, and at his relatively young age, but for him to succumb to a disease that implied he hadn't taken care of himself, or that he'd been careless -- that was a cosmically offensive finale for a man who prided himself on living as healthy a lifestyle as possible. For lung cancer to grow inside someone who'd never once smoked -- and he didn't; not cigarettes, not cigars, not even pipes -- made about as much sense as...well, I don't even know. Any halfhearted metaphor I could muster would sound petty in comparison.

Granted, I was young when this happened; I'd yet to learn the lesson that cancer didn't follow the rules. It didn't matter if my father smoked two packs a day or none, ever, in his life. Cancer was cancer was cancer. It cared hilariously little for textbook arguments. It cared little that my father ate healthy, got his eight hours, and walked our dog, Betsy, to the park and back every morning, without fail. His only real vice – if you could call it that – was a single glass of red at dinner.

Despite this, whichever god- or non-godlike force that drew his number didn't care about the particulars. It pointed at him -- just another anonymous human being in a sea of billions -- and assigned him his fate. And like all the other personal tragedies that befell him during his life, he accepted it without a fuss. He didn't rail against it, didn't muse aloud, "Why me?," didn't go seeking sympathy.

That wasn't his style.


  1. My god. This moved me. Really, truly deeply. I'm going through a similar situation, and your father sounds a lot like mine. Thank you for writing this.

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words. I'm sorry to hear of your troubles.