My grandmother, Helen Finton Corwin(or perhaps Corwin Finton) is dying of cancer. At this point, there is little that can be done. Her prognosis is anything from weeks to months, as metastatic cancer advances erratically.
She's still in full possession of her faculties, and currently without pain. She's staying with her daughter, my Aunt K. She seems upbeat, and I was glad to spend time with her.
Things of this nature always make me angry. I expect that the forms of cancer will have effective therapies developed within my lifetime, and that the host of other problems that make her life so short as well. But it will not come in time for her. And knowing this, I can think of nothing to do but to preserve what memories and time I have with her as well as I can. It's a weak salve to someones death, to promise to remember them. I've never seen my grandmother cry before. She has always been an upright and certain person. The most solid figure in my family.
I know that she is scared and unhappy and I see her seeing things with the unspoken subtext "this is the last time you will see this", and what a terrible thing that is.
You would think that such a reality would sweep away pride and social norms, and that I could say all the things I wanted to her. But in that situation, you cling to it instead, and so I stayed largely silent, not wanting to upset the fragile upbeat thing that was my few days, likely the last days I will spend with her. I didn't want to embarass her. I didn't want to upset her. I didn't want to embarass myself.
This is a bad world.
I've known this for a long time, just as I've always accepted that our progress upon it is slow and certain and altogether to be aided and believed in. But it is still too slow. Too slow again for one more.
For me, the rate of change in the world has always been clocked by the problems the people I care about have. The power of medicine is the sicknesses my friends and family survive. The failure of the same is shown conversely. It's easier, when you're a teen, and the only people who have died are those you did not have time to know. That's when I decided that the world was fundamentally getting to be a better place over the centuries.
It still is, but it's slower than it should be. Perhaps it always was and I should have known, but the markers for me started later. I feel guilty about many things, but mostly it's my helplessness and complicity, however small, in the pain of those I care about. I don't know what would have been enough, but what I have done and tried was not it.
I'll miss her.
"In the mirrors of many judgments my hands are the color of blood. I am a part of the evil that exists in the world and in Shadow. I sometime fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils. I destroy Melkins when I find them, and on that Great Day of which prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe, on that day when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses. Perhaps even sooner than that, I now judge. But whatever... Until that time, I shall not wash my hands nor let them hang useless."
--Corwin, "The Guns of Avalon" by Roger Zelazny