It was the last night of our Alaskan voyage.
After seven days at sea, I felt like a cross between Christopher Columbus and a Beluga whale.
Still, I indulged myself one more time.
My Mom, brother, sister-in-law and I gathered at the Crown Grill on deck Seven.
I opened a leather covered menu heavy enough to qualify for an aerobics accessory.
My brother whipped out his cell phone. (Being an American, he had a super-amazing cell phone plan.
- Free calls between family members friends and total strangers.
- Unlimited texting underground, across the world and between planets.
Ship to shore, Not so cheap.)
“Got a text,” He said, “could be the kids.”
Need I say more? My brother’s family is the size of a small nation. Bracing for some kind of national emergency, he opened the text.
“Marion…passed…away,” He read slowly.
It was my cousin.
Mom burst into tears. The rest of us just sat there stunned.
We all knew she was battling cancer.
But, we had no idea she had spent the last few days struggling to
- to live,
- to breathe,
- to say good-bye.
Now she was gone.
A courageous woman. A kind soul. A mom. A sister.
An ordinary superhero, not by choice but by necessity.
Perhaps, that is the way all superheroes are made. Forced into battle by
- Natural disaster
- Moral outrage
- An unexpected medical diagnosis
For the first time in a while, I thought about my Dad. Like Dylan Thomas, he had raged “against the dying of the light” when he found out he had six months to live.
I thought of my mother-in–law. She spent her last years in a body that would not obey her mind. Would not move. She could only smile or cry.
Like most superheroes, they won in the end.
- Left the body that had betrayed them.
- Entered a new world no human can comprehend.
I ordered a steak. Picked at my baked potato. Then, I headed to my room.
But, I could not escape the truth.
We were the losers. The ones left behind.