A Farewell to Arms

My father and his glioblastoma gave and took their final blows tonight. The tumor sucker-punched, as it always has, sending Dad into a couple of hours of rapid, raspy breathing. And then, at 10:12 p.m., with his wife at his side, Dad looked at her with eyes fully open, laid down his weapons, and walked away from the game, thus ending the life of the enemy within. In the end, it was a draw.

I know it is inanimate. I know it has no soul, no heart, no will. Still, I want to go on record and make this one essential point very clear to the illness that dueled here:

You did not win.

You may have taken what you came for, but you could never take everything that he is. Not by a long shot.

You could not touch the courage it took to stand up against the fear that grew within. You were never worth the armor of dignity it took to do battle with you. You slipped in by night and slipped out again like a coward with your cache of trinkets representing things he could once do, when he remembered how.

But in the darkness of your pillage, you were too shortsighted to see that he was laughing best within his dreams, where everything was still untouched.

You tampered with time, but we filled it nonetheless, and those smiles and tears rest under lock and key now, in tender places you will never find.

You came without warning; you left without a word. Uninvited, you toiled among us in your arrogance and stealth.

But you underestimated him. You didn't factor in the love, didn't understand the pride, never got the jokes, and were too intent upon your purpose to grasp the wisdom that comes from believing in the loveliest things we have never seen.

They told us initially that they had "retrieved it all" but that you had roots. And you thought your task would be a simple one, never realizing that tumors aren't the only things with roots, that no matter what we take, there is always something left behind.

You didn't win here. You couldn't possibly. You never stood a chance against the love of my family or the strength and pride of this particular man.

You didn't win.

Diane Robinson Phillips
wee hours, October 11, 2000
announcing Dad's passing to friends on the braintmr mailing list
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