Once upon a time there was a family, a small family, but a close-knit family.
The family was made up of a grandfather, a grandmother, two daughters, two son-in-laws, and three grandchildren. The family agreed on very little: not money, not politics, not religion, and certainly not on a definition of family values. But it didn't matter. They bit their tongues and kept most of their opinions to themselves, and so despite their vast differences and great geographical distance, they loved and cared for each other very much.
One winter's night, when the grandchildren were still little, the beloved grandmother died quite unexpectedly in her sleep. The family never really recovered from her death, certainly not her sons(-in-law), to whom she'd been more of a mother than any other woman. Her death left a void that time would never be able to fill.
Years later, just as the grandchildren were entering adulthood, the grandfather fell ill. Liver cancer came on hard and fast and ugly. Diagnosis to death was measured in a handful of long, cruel weeks. The grandchildren were still too young to have children of their own, but old enough to understand and witness the immense physical pain and suffering of a death by cancer. The family relived it over and over again in their nightmares.
Years passed. Eventually it was the youngest daughter who was the first to become a grandmother. Mother to one miracle daughter, fulfilling her new role as a grandmother became her life. Five years later she was ecstatic to become a grandmother again, as the family welcomed the first and only female of the newest generation. It was when her granddaughter was only seven months old that the youngest daughter was diagnosed with stage IV of the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Treatment would be palliative. She would endure radiation and chemo just to have more time with her grandchildren. When six months and six rounds of one chemo drug failed she bravely embraced starting over with a new one. Last week the family found out that after four months of the newest aggressive chemo treatments the youngest daughter's tumors had shrunk a little. Not much, only a little. The family hopes that a little is enough that the youngest daughter will be allowed to continue treatment for just a little while longer. The family waits.
The oldest daughter and her husband would become grandparents of four boys, the oldest of which just turned five, and the youngest of which was only four months old as of yesterday. Yesterday, when the family found out that the oldest daughter's husband has prostate cancer, and there is reason to suspect that the cancer is elsewhere. The family waits.
(PS Please do not mention anything on my fb profile, as my cousins do not yet know.)