We look at members of our family as being immortal. We hear of something on the news or from someone else or read it in the paper, and our first reaction is usually “thankfully that won’t happen to me”. Even when something happens to extended family, it’s not the same as immediate family. If your aunt or your uncle is diagnosed with a terminal illness, then we feel for them, but we thank whoever that it isn’t our immediate family.
What happens then when it IS our immediate family. When you are told that your father has a disease that kills. Then he trials a drug and is cured. But in the meantime you are watching the weight fall from him as he vomits every night. When the tiniest drop of blood can harm you. But then he is cured and it reaffirms the notion that your family is immortal.
Then your mother becomes ill. Told there is a brain tumour. The thoughts that run through your head are too fast. They operate though and remove it. Once again, your family is immortal. Then she has something wrong with her stomach. If she doesn’t get it sorted, she’ll die. Another operation later and once again, your family is immortal.
Your sister contracts Tuberculosis (TB) and is locked in a room in hospital. They tell you that she has only one working lung and that is not 100% efficient. But she survives. Your family is immortal. Your mother has a stroke. Puts her in hospital for months. She has to learn how to use the muscles on the side of her face again. But she survives. Your family is immortal. Arthritis spreads through her body, getting to every joint and some not joints. But she remains happy because your family is immortal.
Then your father, again, parts of him start to fail. His knees, his back. He has to have operations to fix it. Which he does. Everything is good. Yes, he will have to have other operations, but that’s not a problem. After all, your family is immortal.
And then it happens. That moment that knocks you off of your feet. Has you crying in a corner because your family is supposed to be immortal. These things aren’t supposed to happen to you. They happen to other people. Not you. YOUR. FAMILY. IS. IMMORTAL!!! The doctor’s have to be wrong. They have to be. They’ve misdiagnosed. It’s not cancer. Not your mother. It’s not allowed to be. When they say it’s inoperable, they don’t know that. There’s got to be something. Your family is immortal. It turns out that they were wrong, and it was a shadow. They mistook it for something else. Once again, your family is immortal.
Your father has a heart attack, but it’s okay. He’s in hospital at the time, which proves that your family is immortal. But they find something else. But that’s okay, they deal with it. Because your family is immortal. He has to have a bypass operation, and you are happy with that because it means he truly is immortal.
But then …
Immortality fails. And there is no coming back from it. You get a call from your sister at 6.40 in the morning saying “he’s gone”. You realise immortality is not real. Immortality is what you see when you don’t want to see. Immortality is a hope you have so you don’t think about the alternative. Immortality is your hope that your family will be there forever. But they won’t. Nobody is immortal. Not in the physical sense.
They are immortal in your heart. They will live forever with you in your thoughts, and your actions. So once again, your family is immortal.