Fuck You, Cancer

This is Fuck You Week, Jezebel's first annual week of desperate emotional cleansing and unhinged psychic purging.

One year ago yesterday, prostate cancer killed my dad. It took a couple of years—slow, incremental declines that we could rationalize or ignore—but, eventually, there were just too many things wrong and it was over. One year ago yesterday.

Watching someone die in real life isn't like in the movies, because you can't make a movie that's four days long where the entire "plot" is just three women crying and eating candy while a brusque nurse absentmindedly adjusts a catheter bag and tries to comfort them with cups of room-temperature water. My dad lost consciousness on Saturday night, but he didn't die until Monday afternoon. All the hours in between, we just sat there. Waiting. Each breath got slower and rougher—I use a French press now because I can't bear the percolator—and we sat and listened to every one.

Sometimes a team of doctors would come in and loom over us with well-rehearsed concern. "How are you doing?" they would ask. Oh, you mean besides sitting here on this plastic hospital chair listening to the world's best dude struggle for breath for the past 36 hours, UM, FUCKING GANGBUSTERS, I GUESS. "Is there anything we can do?" Well, apparently not, considering this whole long-slow-death thing that's happening in this room right now. But you're the doctor. You tell me.

I have never wanted anything as much as I wanted that shitty purgatory to be over. Except for one thing—which was for that shitty purgatory to never be over. Because when it's over, it's over. And eventually it was. And we went home.

So, I guess nobody told cancer that my dad was THE BEST. That he was the most universally beloved human being I've ever personally met, who was pathologically committed to generosity and fun, and who ran circles around all of us until well into his 70s. (That's a video of him—over there—when we still had six months left.) Couldn't somebody have given cancer a heads-up that I hadn't gotten a chance to get all my dad's stories out of him yet? Did cancer skip the meeting where I specifically said I wanted my dad to play the piano at my wedding? Put down that coffee. Somebody here is fucking fired.

But it wouldn't have mattered, obviously. Cancer killed my dad, and maybe your dad too, and it'll probably kill me one of these days, and it doesn't give a shit whether we're nice or mean or boring or pretty or if our daughters have big sentimental wedding plans. It just takes stuff away, indiscriminately, and it doesn't even have the decency to be, like, a bear or a murderer or something tangible I can be mad at. So here I am, one year without a dad, anthropomorphizing a weird ungraspable concept involving organ failure and cell growth, because anger is easier to deal with than great big senseless absence.

So fuck you, cancer—and fuck you most of all because saying "fuck you" doesn't even help.