Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Uncle Dean

Eleven years ago, in the middle of my final exams during my senior year of college, my Mom called to tell me that my Uncle Dean was in the hospital. He'd had a minor heart attack. He was going to be fine, and I was not to worry.

She lied.

In reality, Dean had suffered a major stroke & heart attack, and was in a coma, from which, his team of doctors had little hope that he would wake. She told me this after my exams were over. She didn’t want me losing focus.

I’ve always been pissed at her for that.

The day that my family met at the hospital, weeks later, to talk about removing Dean’s life support, he woke up. It was a no holes barred, certified Act Of God, miracle. But unlike the Movies Of The Week where the hero gets out of bed and walks out of the hospital, Dean had suffered heart & brain damage. He also found out he had MS. He has been forced to live in assisted living facility for ten years.

Yesterday, my father called to tell me that Dean had suffered another heart attack, and was in the ICU at Yale New Haven Hospital. I just got off the phone with my Uncle Jim, and Dean is going to be all right. His recovery will be long and painful, but the doctors say that he should be ok. These are some of the best doctors in the entire world. They know.

In reality, though, he probably won’t. You see, the cause of this heart attack, confirmed by these best doctors in the world, was the change in his blood chemistry from the last ten years of smoking. Dean smoked before his stroke and first heart attack. Dean smoked after his first heart attack. Dean will smoke again. Dean will die.

My mother smoked for 25 years. She died from cancer that started in her lungs and metastasized to her brain. Standing at her bedside, I watched helplessly as she died.

To everyone else, and I mean everyone, in my family that still chooses to smoke:

Fuck you.

Go die somewhere else. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want my children to see it. The next time you walk away to have a smoke, don’t come back.

From now on, I will not allow one, single, God-Damned cigarette to enter my property. Does everyone understand that?

You bring a cigarette into my house? You leave.

I’m tired of having to think about what I’ve lost to cigarettes. I can’t begin to think about what I stand to lose if someone else I know and love gets sick.