Thursday, February 27, 2014

on speaking without thinking...

something I seem to be good at.

Last December it has been 3 years since my brother-in law-died. When he was sick, well, we didn't know he was 'sick' then, only that he was having some problems that were getting increasingly worse, and he was not being pro-active about his health and condition, and again we didn't really know yet what was going on and things that we thought were willful were not because he was actually far worse already by then than what we and he knew.


He was dying of cancer and we, he, didn't know it yet. Didn't know he had cancer because they had no insurance and the small town doctor kept blowing him off. My sister maybe suspected but she hadn't shared this fear with me. Or I don't know, maybe she had. I can be pretty insensitive. Not on purpose of course, but I say stuff nonetheless.


He started out with shoulder pain which spread to his arm and other shoulder and other arm and then down his back and then his legs. Over the course of about 9 months his activity slowly dwindled, he started needing a cane to walk around, and finally stopped being able to move at all without intense pain. I'll spare you the whole story. 

Eventually we got him to an emergency room where he was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic lung cancer and he died two weeks later. I wrote about it extensively once we knew.*

But back before we knew how bad it was, before we knew he was dying, my sister and I were talking and she was feeling very frustrated with her husband because, well because a lot of reasons. I don't remember exactly how the conversation led me to say what I said, something about his apathy, nor do I remember my exact words but I do remember saying it. Something to the effect of...

'well, if he's going to let himself die he should at least have the good grace to do it quickly instead of dragging it out for a couple of years'.

And a couple of months later we are sitting in the hospital cafeteria, my sister and I, and I am apologizing to her for my flip remark.

It was not one of my finer moments.

I think though, that it is better to go out quick than to linger on the edge for a long time.

* there were 8 posts in December 2010 starting with 'several things...' and ending with 'close encounters of the dying kind'.


  1. Poor health that may become fatal is hard to tell others about. One stage he was in was denial since he was told it was fatla. This is only one step in dieing. Sorry for your lose and how it affected all involved.

  2. Ouch! So sad to go through the slow death of someone before their time.

  3. I'm like this quadruple Sagittarius and am constantly hopping around on one leg because of my tendency to put a foot in mouth. There's no malice intended, but that's not much consolation. And...once my mouth says something, there's no use trying to explain, back out of just gets worse. I understand completely.

  4. we all say things flippantly now and then. and it can be hurtful. i hope your sis understands you meant no malice.

    i always tell my husband - if you're gonna die, make it quick.

  5. if it was cathartic to get that out, then good. But we all have things we are ashamed about. I myself can easily conjure up six in the space of just a few seconds. Doesn't really help to think of them, save to be mindful in the future, which, yeah, happens inversely to the number of things I'm ashamed about.

  6. I remember your blogs during that time. Funny thing is, I got something completely different from your blogs. I thought of you as being pragmatic and concerned. I know it is hard to have to face the words we have spoke sometimes but you were upset with the system as well as your brother-in-laws situation. Go easy on yourself. I would have to stand in line right next to you for running my mouth without all the info needed to remark but I also know you care, I care and that's sometimes the cause of dilemma.

  7. I actually appreciate people who don't censor their thoughts and say what they think, but I understand that on occasion we blunder. So it goes. If a person gets their feelings hurt they should say so and get some clarity. At the same time, I am so guilty of never saying when my feelings are hurt but that's on me. I suppose there is an inbetween? :)

  8. Yes, my grandmother would agree with you, she lingered in a nursing home bed about five years.
    That said, I sympathize. I, too, find it easy to say stupid things, and worse, gratuitous things. Perhaps it's because we need to get better at apologizing.

  9. I want to be hit by a truck. In town this week, a guy rolled his car, stumbled into a moving train, and survived.

  10. I lost a friend last week because of something I said - & I'm mad at myself because I was just babbling without really thinking & I'm mad at her because, really? I say one dumb thing & we're done? Alrighty then!

    (For the record, she asked me to do something I considered unethical & while trying to explain why I couldn't do it I implied that she had forged a document)

  11. We all make off-color remarks from time to time. I'm sure your sister understands, given the context.

    I'll have to go back and read those posts. Holy cow. The real tragedy here is that he didn't get adequate medical care so much sooner -- whether the result of his own malaise, his doctor's disinterest or his lack of insurance.

  12. foot-in-mouth-disease is a very common ailment, believe me.

    I call it ‘calling a spade a dirty big shovel’. We shouldn’t ever hurt others though; a little self control is needed.

    I remember your posts of the time well and I remember how angry you seemed. I am sure your sister has long accepted your outburst for what it was, concern and empathy.

  13. I suspect your sister knows you well enough to just smile and accept it knowing full well that you'd never intend to hurt.

    I remember totally regretting something I said to a pregnant woman I worked with. She was ill.. really ill with morning sickness.. all day long. I had never had kids yet and I stupidly reported something that I'd heard or read about morning sickness being more mind over matter.. that the expectation is to feel ill and so we do. WRONG. I spent the first full four months of both of my pregnancies regretting my callous words.


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.