It is like a bad made for TV movie. And yet it is real life.

We got a call early last week that my brother in law was in the hospital. He went to the emergency room due to a long bout with severe pain. We happened to be in East Texas for a funeral, the uncle of my husband and his brother, when the call came in. So instead of being 4 hours away, we were a little over an hour away driving time from him. Instead of heading directly home after the funeral service, we drove up check on him. Mike had already told us he was not up to attending the uncle’s service but we didn’t know (nor did he) that his situation was hospital bound. So many relatives had been at the service and passing through the area on their way home, that Mike was flooded with visitors all that afternoon. A true revolving door of visitors. It made the afternoon rough for those of us that already had received the news.

The tests being conducted had returned shocking results. Cancer. Lung and liver at the least, maybe esophageal. Inoperable. Just too may lesions in too many places. Aggressive. Has already spread to multiple organs. Needs more tests to determine where it started (Lung to liver? Liver to lung? Esophagus to lung to liver?) but regardless treatment would just prolong life a brief time, not cure the cancer. Pain management is the answer for the immediate and long term need.

As Mike’s two children, three of his siblings and some miscellaneous in-laws tried to absorb the news, emotions ran high. Everyone had an opinion on the course of action to take next. Very few in the group gathered near the same page of discussion. Even what to tell Mike was not agreed upon, as it turns out, he was not in the loop regarding the severity of the situation and his two grown children could not agree on a course of action. The hodgepodge group in the lobby of the hospital must have made a site to passersby. I doubt hospital staff was phased. They probably see it all the time. Dysfunction at its best. (Mike’s grown children are just a few years younger than my husband and I, and their relationship with the father has been on again off again for years.)

We are waiting on more testing results and trying to be optimistic. In the meantime, guess what? Our lives have not changed. We go about our lives just the same as we did the week before this news came to us. Meanwhile, four hours away, Mike is grappling with life and death decisions and getting the paperwork of his life, his ‘affairs’ in order. It is all so unfair.

There have been several occasions lately that have reminded me that I do not control when I leave this life. My husband and I happen to live just off a small state highway with a very high recent death toll on it and all the accidents have occurred within a quarter mile of our subdivision entrance. I met a friend’s friend at a party on a Saturday night. And she died the following Wednesday due to injuries from an auto accident. My husband’s uncle fell and hit his head in the bathroom and never recovered. Life is fragile in so many ways.