Today is not a funny day. Grace in Small Things was HARD today; because today is a bit crap really. Not just for the rain, and the wind, and the gut wrenching, heartbreaking news, though all of that is wretched. Last night the Bearded One rang me to say that my brother had just got his latest scan results and they are not good.
My brother - that brilliant, kind, crazily hard-working man - has a brain tumour (grade 3, tumour watchers). All brain tumours are bad, but his is towards the very bad end of the spectrum. It's big, malignant, inoperable; the prognosis is poor. He found out in October 2007 and promptly decided to jack in his crazy high pressure city job for a lovely relaxed life as .... a hedge fund manager*. Yes. This is my brother. Why face one challenge when you could be facing two ridiculously hard ones that would send a lesser mortal to the asylum?
Since then , he has had brain biopsies, radiotherapy, chemo and more chemo and then more chemo. All the while running his new hedge fund. And being a superlatively wonderful father to his 6 year old daughter and 3 year old son. And celebrating his fortieth birthday with a huge party. Then he and his wife went to the Manoir aux Quatre Saisons for a birthday weekend while I looked after the kids and wrote my dead crow poem and my nephew amused us all by telling us that he hated farmers and that pigs did not make sausages, they made dirt. They really enjoyed it, even if my brother had to go to bed quite early. They are good at having fun.
After a short period of inactivity in the autumn, it appears the tumour is growing again. Fuck off, stupid fucking bastard tumour. My brother and his wife, being the kind of people they are, were going out for champagne, before screwing up their courage for another round of chemo. I wish I could at least have been there to babysit my wickedly funny niece and nephew. At times like this, the distance is such a frustration. I want to live down the road and be able to drop round for a couple of hours to do the washing up, or take the kids to the park. I go over whenever I can, and whenever they want me to, but it never feels like enough. It's too far to be a proper support.
So my father and I sat in silence on the phone for a while. There isn't much to say. We knew it was coming. - these kinds of tumours don't discreetly fade away - but we hoped the stupid fucking thing might give him a few more months respite before it going on its pernicious way. Worse, none of us really believe in anything, so we can't pray or do anything much but rally round and keep each other close. I wish it was closer though.