Tonight, over dinner, I had to talk to my boys about cancer.

It’s been pressing on my mind all day—the text from my sister-in-law. A week ago my brother, who never goes to doctors, went to a doctor. He woke up with a black veil over his left eye. He was nauseated to the point of disability. When he tried to walk, the world tilted, spun, and lost its sense of order.

They found a tumor.

It’s cancer.

Brain cancer.

In less than a week he’ll have brain surgery and begin chemotherapy. Everything is uncertain.

He could die, my 8-year-old said. Yes. He could.
He’ll be sick, won’t he, my 7-year-old said. Yes. He will.
Will it damage his brain? my 10-year-old asked. Maybe. We hope not.

What if they don’t get it all?
Will it spread?
Will it happen to me?

So many of their questions I could not answer. It’s cancer. It’s unpredictable. It has no pattern, no measurable origin, no certain outcome.

Our dinner ended very quietly, like a reverent prayer. And fifteen minutes later, when they had all done their after-dinner chores without a single complaint, they were blissfully screeching on the trampoline out back.

I closed my eyes and listened to how predictably life goes on.

(Photo by Mario Calvo on Unsplash)