Monday, May 7, 2012

A Good Life ~ by John S. McCormick

Right before Ross Jacobs walks into the medical center, he takes a long look around. He sees the trees blossoming, a mother bird teaching her babies to fly and the soothing blue sky. He closes his eyes for a moment feeling the warmth of the sun on his face. The world seems so full of life and promise. He wonders if everything will feel the same way when he comes back out. Today is the day Ross hopes to learn why he has been feeling so ill for awhile now. He has had some loss of vision and severe headaches that have become constant recently. Ross swallows hard and enters the building.

Dr. Jeffery Michaels sees Ross right away. Ross feels pain in his stomach as they walk to the doctor's office. On the way, he sees posters showing healthy people. One shows a child with a puppy playing. Again, Ross feels the sense of life and promise. But, as they enter the doctor's office and sit down, he is wondering again if he will feel the same way when he leaves.

"Ross, all the tests came back, and we know what has been causing all your problems. I'm terribly sorry to have to tell you this, but you have inoperable brain cancer.", Dr. Michaels says solemnly and continues. " Although there is no treatment or cure, we can prescribe medications that may help to keep you comfortable."

The pain in Ross's stomach worsens and he feels a sense of panic. For a second, he sees a picture of Dr. Michaels's family on the credenza behind his desk. He thinks about the life and family he was planning with his partner. "Why is it inoperable and untreatable?", Ross sadly asks. "Your cancer has spread to most of your brain. There is no way to operate. If we do, you will die. Also, because of the severity of your condition, there is no successful treatment currently available.", Dr. Michaels explains.

"But I can't have cancer! I have too many people that depend on me!", Ross says with a lot of energy. "I understand and I am sorry. Now is the time to put things in order.", Dr. Michaels, says sympathetically. "How long do I have?", Ross asks a little frightened. "Things are going to get much worse very fast because of the stage of the cancer. You can expect to lose your vision completely in just a few weeks. And not soon after that, you will start to lose all bodily functions and need to be hospitalized.", the doctor sadly says. "How long to I have doctor?", Ross asks nervously. "At the most, six to eight weeks. I am so sorry.", Dr. Michaels says with tears in his eyes.

As Ross walks out of the doctor's office to the lobby he notices a poster of an elderly couple happy and looking like they are so in love. He realizes that will never be him and his partner. Once back outside the medical center, he sees the trees, sky and birds again. And, it hits him hard that there is no life or promise for him anymore. He is overcome with emotion and breaks down crying. He is terrified thinking about telling his loved ones and is not sure how to.
Ross has a partner, Sue Kennedy, and they have been together for sixteen years, yet they have never lived together. There are plans to buy a house soon and finally have a real life together. They also want to open a restaurant, since Ross is an aspiring gourmet chef.

There is also Ross's mother, Barbara Jacobs, who will be turning 75-years-old in a couple of months to tell. He has been organizing a huge surprise birthday party for her and now he won't be there for it. Having lost her husband and 45-year-old daughter in the last two years, Sam is afraid what this will do to her to learn she will be losing him as well. She still has difficulties with the other losses.

Finally, there is Ross's 24-year-old nephew, James Jacobs, to tell. James never knew his father and looks to Ross as a role model and father figure. James has plans to marry in a few months, and Ross is supposed to be his best man. James considers Ross his best friend.

When Ross gets home, before he contacts anyone, he takes a long look in the mirror and reflects on his life. He realizes his life was pretty good full of love and joy. He looks at himself a moment longer and then says goodbye to the life he has known.

Moments later the phone rings and it is Sue on the line. She asks, "How did it go at the doctor? Any news?" Ross takes a deep breath, while closing his eyes, and then opens them again. He begins to speak.

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