The Longest Journey

Killing Time and Kicking Cancer Ass

Checking off the drugs one at a time.

Checking off the drugs one at a time.

How is round two going? Boring, boring, boring…in other words, it is going really well, so far. The cancer poisons are dripping into Dylan’s chest port, he is tired and his appetite isn’t super, but he has not needed any heavy pain killers and has only taken nausea drugs to eat and sleep. So yesterday was a good day.

We did get a visitor yesterday, an Administrator from the hospital was gathering opinions on Swedish. Our one complaint? If we are here during March Madness we might miss some basketball games because the hospital only gets 15 channels. When the thing that bothers you the most is that you only have one channel of ESPN, well, then things are not too bad.

On Tuesday, my mom drove us to the Bainbridge Island ferry and dropped us off. Swedish isn’t walking distance from the ferry for someone in Dylan’s shape, but there are lots of taxis and guys driving black Town Cars offering rides to wherever you might want to go, so I knew it would be an easy trip once we got off the ferry. The entire waterfront is a construction zone now (according to the original plans it was completed two months ago…it might be done by the time the Sonics return to Seattle) and so there are just a few walkways to go through as you exit the ferry and that is where the guys with black Town Cars wait. Our driver, who I selected through the scientifical process of announcing, “I’ll pay $10 to get to Swedish,” was the first guy to grab my rolling bag and run us across the street. Once we were in the car and heading up to Swedish I learned a lot. I like to talk to people and our driver liked to talk also. He was from Ethiopia. He and his wife moved here after living in Kenya for a few years. Kenya is a terrible place full of corruption and bad cops. Ethiopia is a nearly perfect country with a climate very similar to Seattle. Africa is much larger than most people think. The Sudan is possibly the worst place in the world. There are lots of sayings in Ethiopia about when times are tough that I can’t remember at this point because I didn’t write them down. He was going to pray for us and there is always a reason for suffering.

Is there always a reason for suffering? I know pain helps us appreciate pleasure, but I don’t buy the company line when it comes to suffering. I’m not talking about the suffering my son has gone through in the past month; I am talking about the suffering that exists in this world. Is it fair that through sheer luck and geography that my son ends up in one of the leading cancer hospitals in the world, while other people die because a mosquito bites them? This struck me, and to be honest I felt a little guilty about it, when I told our driver we were going to Swedish for cancer care. In Africa, which really is much larger than most people think, suffering goes on without much notice here in the western world. How does one weigh fairness of suffering? I haven’t studied Ethiopian history, but I do know that the British did not create an empire by handing out lollipops to the locals, and I know that Halie Selassie isn’t going to get recognized with a posthumous award from Amnesty International. So has all the suffering in Ethiopia been for reason? I doubt it.

While individual suffering might sharpen our personalities, or cause us to look at the world differently, I have difficulty swallowing the idea that in the long run it all balances out. If the world really was just, then I wouldn’t have to worry about only having one channel of ESPN.

8 replies »

    • I’m going to ask a two year old, they seem to have the best grasp on the most difficult philosophical questions. FYI, I read a bunch from your book last night to Dylan. I was read one and then say, “Want another?” and then I’d read another. Good stuff.

  1. Hey Mr. Whitworth. I did mention that quality humans do possess two important attributes: perspective and conscience. So, your latest comments regarding suffering sheds some light on perspective. Some would argue that having one channel to watch March Madness would constitute as Suffering. Then again, perspective says that maybe only those basketball junkies who played some ball and had fond memories of watching MM would actually consider this to be on a suffering level. I also thought of how, I too like to talk to people, all types of people and anywhere I go. For instance, when I walk in to grocery stores I always go through the check out line that has an actual human being scanning my items. Why? One, much like the timber industry, machines can actually take over every clerks’ job if a company really wanted to. Second, I like to talk to people!!! What a novel concept for many people, including this new generation that actually communicates more by talking less (text, twitter, email, FB etc.) I agree with your taxi commentary. You can learn a whole lot from taking the time to speak with someone openly for 5 minutes. If anything, you gain some real useful perspective, but ultimately you learn to be cordial to people and you may even take the time to add a kind gesture while doing it. One last thought. I’ve always been impressed with people who are well read. We’ve all heard the cliche that knowledge is power, but being well read means you can look outside of your life bubble and understand things in a larger context. I also use to admire your top of the key J, but your devotion to being a father and having a gift of words are much more admirable. Just saying that your J has been replaced!!!!

    • Emma used to hate when I went to Ted’s to get groceries because I would be gone for an hour. I would always run into someone I knew and needed to talk to, and as far as I’m concerned talking to people is one of the great joys of life.

      My J has suffered from a lack of practice, but I can still talk a good game.

      • Haha, there’s a guy on the bus in Portland who will give you a free haircut! Actually, I think the coppers nabbed him and he’s in the hospital ward with no access to sharp objects. Some people are really picky about their haircuts, I guess.

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