Cleveland's Cross-Town Cancer Culture

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

We love the Meyers, but they are inconveniently located.  We live on the West Side of Cleveland; the Meyers live on the East.  And thanks to Cleveland’s bizarre reluctance to build a freeway anywhere near population centers, there is no direct route.
So instead of a twenty-minute trip, getting there is a forty-minute ride across buckled streets and dodgy neighborhoods.  This makes scheduling tricky; I have to work eight hours, I have to write two hours, and if I want to see the Meyers then to the East Side’s inconvenience we must go and that’s ninety minutes vanished right there in transit.
Yet we must.  Not just because they are our friends, but because our goddaughter Rebecca has brain cancer.
We don’t know how long she has.  And we need to stand by our dear friends in their hour of need.
And Kat, seeing our stress, has been encouraging us to go to a cancer counselor – someone specialized in dealing with the grief and stress that comes from watching a loved one go through this.  And it is stressful.  We call Rebecca our godchild, but Gini pointed out to me that we were literally the first ones to lay eyes on each of the Meyer children as they arrived at the home.  We’ve changed their diapers, bandaged their wounds, played with them regularly.
In a very real sense, the definition is closer to “grandchildren.”
In a very real sense, as Rebecca diminishes, so do I.
But I’ve been holding off on going to the cancer counselor, because I don’t have time to squeeze in yet another ninety minutes of driving on top of everything else.  I’m glad Kat and Eric have someone to go to, but me?  I can’t haul my ass over to the East side again, not for therapy, I really can’t.
Until Gini pointed out that there was also a clinic here.  On the West Side.  Ten minutes away.  She seemed aghast that I’d think there was only one clinic to deal with Cleveland’s cancer-related psychological issues.
But really, deep in my heart, I’d subconsciously hoped that what we were going through wasn’t that common.  Watching Rebecca is tearing us to shreds.  Watching the Meyers is breaking our hearts.  Watching ourselves struggle to face this cold reality is slicing time off our lives, the stress weighing on our bodies.  I can feel the anxiety shortening my time here, and though I knew it was possible to die of heartbreak, only now do I truly feel how such a thing could happen.
I’d hoped that it was just us.  But it isn’t.  It’s a hundred people, a thousand, maybe hundreds of thousands over the years, dealing with this goddamned disease and the helplessness you feel as some sickness ravages someone you love, and it was okay when it was just me but knowing this is replicating across the city, the state, the nation, the globe, feels like a door has swept open and all the evils in the world are walking in.
I wanted just one clinic.  Inconveniently located.  Infrequently used.  And the goddamn thing all but has franchises, and today that seems so unfair it makes my fingers tremble.

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