Loads of other people have had a much harder summer than I have had. Loads of other people have had a much BETTER summer I’m sure. Of course, for Aretha Franklin, John MCCain, and my Oncologist from when I was a kid, Dr Rubin, this was their last summer.
Certainly their summers were worse.
Dr Rubin. He passed away a few days ago and it feels like a chunk of my life has dropped away. He once told my parents to brace for my death. That it was coming, sooner, rather than later. I cannot believe I am still here and he is not. He taught me a lot. He taught me not to judge a book by it’s cover. (I hope that man isn’t my doctor, he looks pretty scary).
He taught me its okay to dream but you have to face facts too. He once sat me down and told me, “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.”
It has been my guiding principle since that day. In every situation where I am unsure, those words have never failed to prepare me for a way out. I learned so much from him, and I’m sure he had no idea. I learned decisions have real-world consequences. I learned sometimes the right thing is not the easy or nice thing to do. I learned you can disagree with someone and still like them. I learned giving up is for losers. I learned everyone gives up sometimes and you just have to shake off that ‘I’m a loser’ stank and get back up again.
I don’t remember much from the day shortly after my 16th birthday when he told me the Leukemia came back but I do remember he cried. He thought he was telling me I was going to die. I did too. I think we all did.
I never got a chance to introduce him to Ellie and Ben and now I never will and for that I am sorry. He would have gotten a kick out of them. It would have made him smile for a minute, a second out of a day devoted to people in some of the worse situations of their lives. The kind of emotional stamina it takes for a compassionate heart to stay in an oncology wing day after day, week after week, I can’t even imagine. He was always on call. Nosebleeds on a Sunday? He’s there. Extra blood work needs looked at on a Saturday morning? He was there.
This is an unfitting tribute to Dr Rubin, who deserves trumpets and angels choirs (although he would have hated it) and loads of fan-fare for just showing up at work each day. Who deserves so much more than the gratitude and appreciation of one former ‘chemo-kid’ whose life he has impacted so much.
Thank you Dr R - I literally would not be here if it wasn’t for your dedication to my well being, usually at the expense of your own. And I know I’m only one of hundreds, thousands of people you have struggled to pull back into health. Into life. What else is there to say? Thank you.
A special thank you to all the nurses and doctors who are still striving to keep your heart and spirit while coping with the scariest stuff out there for us humans, disease. Like the police you see people at their worst. Sometimes that scours away pretense and reveals heroic, amazing individuals. I’m sure just as often it exposes the fear and smallness we manage to hide when things are all going well. Maybe sometimes all of that from the same person, on the same day.
To everyone out there who’s ever been sick, or cared for someone who was. Who has ever given up and felt bad about it, who’s ever reacted to bad news with less grace and stoicism as they’d have liked…like Taylor says, just shake it off, shake it off.
You can do this.
Just remember to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. Then chill. There's nothing else a human can do.