My uncle, my mother’s brother, had been having trouble walking for a short time. He was tired all the time, and his hips ached constantly.
Three weeks ago, he went to the hospital, and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. Pinched nerve, they said. Perhaps. They did some blood tests.
Several days later, they said something was wrong with his blood. So they drained out his bad blood, and put fresh new healthy blood back in. They sent him home in a taxi. The taxi driver had to help him back up the stairs to his apartment on the third floor.
A day later, he couldn’t walk around his apartment very well. My mother and her mother took him food, cleaned his apartment for him, kept him company. Eventually, he said he was in too much pain, and had to go back to the hospital.
They kept him there, and ran some more tests. The tests were not good. Two weeks ago yesterday, they had bad news. Very bad news. It was cancer, and there was nothing that could be done. It was in his kidneys, and had spread to his bones. His bone marrow was white. The cancer was spreading fast. He was going to die, but nobody knew exactly when. Radiation treatment was scheduled.
His brother from out west flew home. First, he had scheduled his trip for the 10th, tomorrow. However, after thinking about it for a day, he decided to return home immediately. He stayed with my parents. I, too, wanted to return home, but I need a permission slip from the INS to do so. That’s being worked on, so I figured if I was lucky, I could make it home by Christmastime, to see him one last time.
Last night, my mother called me. My uncle had been doing very well for the past couple of weeks, chattering, talking… sometimes breaking down. They shared memories, and everyone kept smiling. But last night, he took a turn for the worst…
The doctors took the family aside and told them my uncle didn’t have just one cancer… he had two. He had leukemia. They put him on some very heavy pain meds. He was in enormous pain. My mother and I cried together on the phone, 3000 miles apart.
I got the call this morning. Early, early in the morning, my uncle, just 43 years old, died in his deeply drugged sleep, two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
No more pain, Uncle Chris. Forgive us for being selfish and wishing you were here, just a little while longer. But it’s most important to us that you didn’t suffer long with a disease that could have ravaged on for months, or years; painful for you, painful for us all.
My mother had to go through his wallet about a week ago, because they had planned to take him in to spend his last days quietly at home, with his family, and she needed to have his addresses changed over. She called me that night, and told me in his wallet, there was only one picture: mine. A picture of me from around 1992. It was signed: To Uncle Chris, Love Stasia. 1992.
I’m happy to have known you. I’m glad you were a part of my life. I’m glad you were happy to have me in yours, too.
Rest in peace.