M. Giant's
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Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks


Sunday, April 06, 2008  

Two weeks ago, on Easter, a cousin of mine on my mom's side went to the doctor with a severe headache. This afternoon he was taken off life support. It was cancer, in his brain and elsewhere. I can't even say "long story short," because it's not that long of a story to begin with.

I don't get this. I don't get how this happens to a seemingly healthy 46-year-old man, a husband and father of two sons ages 16 and 22 with no risk factors that I know of. I've known people who've died in sudden accidents, and people who have succumbed to long illnesses (including a third-grade classmate), and a kid in my high school who pulled his parents' car into the garage late one spring and left the engine running. Those were all hard, obviously, but I'm having trouble getting my mind around this one.

I've always thought of death coming in two forms: slow, and sudden. Sudden, you don't have time to be concerned about anything. It happens, and you're done. Excused from the table, and don't worry about the dishes. Whereas over the long term, you might have months or years to get stuff taken care of. This in-between area where my cousin fell is one I've never given much thought to until now. His dad, my uncle, told my mom that my cousing didn't suffer and he was at peace, and I hope that's true.

You should have seen that guy tell a story, though. I remember one family gathering many years ago in particular at my aunt's house, with him and his older brother holding court in the kitchen. My mom comes from a big family, so there were enough aunts, uncles, and cousins that the huge room was packed. These are not quiet people, but my cousins had that room in the palm of their hands. I'd love to have that kind of storytelling ability.

I don't even think I'm going to be able to make it to the funeral. He lived in the far corner of Kansas, so far that I could drive to Kansas City from here and still be less than halfway there. It's roughly equidistant from Wichita and Amarillo, so flying to either city would be an imperfect solution. And with work the way it is right now, if the service happens during the week it's all moot anyway.

So I don't know. I don't have a point or a punchline or anything snappy to leave you with here. I’m just sad and a little freaked out. You'd think that after recapping the last season of Six Feet Under I'd be used to the idea of death being capricious and unpredictable, but it was also my job to be glib about that. Not feeling so glib right now. If you could just send good thoughts and prayers to the family of Russell Call, I'd appreciate it. That's pretty much what I'm doing.

posted by M. Giant 9:09 PM 12 comments

12 Comments:

Sorry to hear this news. The whole family will be in my prayers.

By Blogger Heather, at April 7, 2008 at 4:25 AM  

So sorry to hear your news. He and his family will be in my prayers.

I had a very fit friend who died slow-sudden in this way - again, it was cancer - he lived just a couple of weeks from diagnosis.

He said it gave him just enough time to sort out what he really needed to sort out (made a will, gave away the porn) and for everyone to tell him how much they loved him.

When he put it that way it gave us all some comfort.

By Blogger L, at April 7, 2008 at 4:57 AM  

I'm so sorry to hear this. You're right; this is the kind of situation that freaks me out the most.

You'll be in my thoughts.

By Blogger Linda, at April 7, 2008 at 7:15 AM  

I'm so sorry. You and all of Russell's friends and relatives are in my prayers. May Russell's name be a blessing.

By Blogger Bunny, at April 7, 2008 at 7:25 AM  

I'm so sorry for your loss.

It sounds like he fell into the Head Nurse's formula - nice guy, great family, everything going for him, but for the cancer...
This is the kind of dying that freaks me out, too.

Sending prayers...

By Blogger Kris the Girl, at April 7, 2008 at 7:59 AM  

I'm so sorry about your cousin's death. Certain types of brain tumors can be incredibly aggressive, but they're rare enough that most people don't know someone who's died of one. Consulting a doctor about severe new headaches is always a good idea, but it doesn't sound like earlier diagnosis would have made much difference. Life is never more horribly unfair than when it comes to cancer.

I'm glad he didn't suffer terribly. Brain tumors are one of the most difficult manifestations of cancer to live with, and his short time to live after diagnosis may have been a blessing for him. I hope his family will be okay eventually.

Good luck with attending the funeral. At least the roads are fast out there - I think it's about 3 hours from Amarillo to Elkhart, less if you put your foot down.

By Blogger Katherine, at April 7, 2008 at 8:02 AM  

I'm so sorry for your loss, M. Giant. Your family is in my thoughts.

By Blogger lumenatrix, at April 7, 2008 at 3:27 PM  

So sorry to hear this. Very scary. Very sad.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 7, 2008 at 5:42 PM  

// If you could just send good thoughts and prayers to the family of Russell Call, I'd appreciate it. //

Done. We'll talk to you soon.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at April 7, 2008 at 6:07 PM  

Thoughts and prayers for all of you are on the way. So very very sorry for your loss.

By Anonymous Jennifer, at April 8, 2008 at 6:25 AM  

I'm so sorry about the loss of your cousin, M. Giant. Your family and Russell's will be in my thoughts.

I live in Wichita, and I know the people here would move heaven and earth to help you get to Russell's service. If you can just get to Wichita, you can get to your cousin's corner of our state. And don't let work keep you. There is nothing that can't wait a few days or a week (or be handled by someone else).

Take care.

By Blogger Carrie, at April 8, 2008 at 7:50 AM  

I'm so sorry for your loss. Keeping everyone in my thoughts & prayers. - JeniMull

By Blogger Williams Family, at April 8, 2008 at 2:23 PM  

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