What do you do about suffering that is not yours, that you nevertheless feel boring into your gut?

Kaki has cancer again; ‘again’ being the operative word. 6 chemos, a knee replacement, a breast later, we are back here; waiting on more test reports, chemos, more cutting into her body. ‘Her’ is the operative word in this sentence. Her body, not mine.

My mind fails to make sense of it. It refuses to cry and allow my sadness legitimacy because it is not mine, that body, or its cancer. Yet, my gut- also unattached to the said body- hurts. We each deal with this dissonance using our own ill-adapted coping mechanisms. Dadi cries every time she sees babyR and over-feeds us. Attya calls incessantly and asks questions about each member of the family. I go into overdrive, compulsively working myself into fatigue. We sit- drawing conclusions for the future based on our pasts- shaking our legs while we wait for this time-salad to pass. I foresee co-morbidities- the husband skipping medicines and sleep, the child feeling neglected, the sisters fighting- which can become health and conflict issues that people say “all bad things happen at once” about. Like a badly designed game stuck in a feedback loop, shit piles over shit.

But we are getting better at this. I can keep my mind from catastrophizing things. I remind kaka to take his medicines and read stories to babyr. Kaka brings me whiskey. Like sunflowers in absence of the sun, we turn to each other. We try to understand our suffering; only kaki puts words to it: I am not scared; I am just tired.

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