This Week – September 19, 2009

At the 9-11 memorial this year, 2009, in New York, another name is added to those who have fallen from the horrors of that day, Leon Heyward. He died last October after developing lymphoma from the tumbledown of toxic debris. This, after he pulled one injured person after another to safety. And this week:

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The word “cancer” starts to jump out at me from random sources: I read a collection of short stories.  In “Good Country People,” Flannery O’Connor writes of her protagonist: “As a child she had sometimes been subject to feelings of shame, but education had removed the last traces of that as a good surgeon scrapes for cancer . . .”  On the radio, a reporter asks the mayor of Kandahar, Afghanistan, why he has chosen this precarious role. Isn’t he afraid for his life? “Somewhere else you die of cancer or heart attack. Here you are shot or blown up by a bomb. What’s the difference?”

Death and fear coax me out of acceptance. My imagination runs wild. Instead of staying in the present, I project myself forward to post surgical treatment – to the radiation that awaits me:

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