Yesterday I spoke with a woman who told me she has 18 brothers and sisters. As I started turning this number around in my head I thought, Surely she must be including step-siblings and half-siblings. It was as if she had read my mind. “All from the same parents,” she said. “Wow!” I said, still turning the number over in my head, imagining a house with that many children and teenagers living in it (the screaming, the crying, the fighting, the laughing–it would certainly keep the parents busy). “We were raised Catholic,” she said. “And just so you know, the rhythm method doesn’t work.” Duly noted.
I’ve been forlorn over the news that Christopher Hitchens has esophageal cancer. I missed the news when it was first announced because I was overseas and completely unaware of any news (no internet access, not much tv watching either). Then, just a few weeks ago, I did a google search for new Hitchens material and found the cancer story.

In a piece he wrote for Vanity Fair, he opens with this:

I have more than once in my time woken up feeling like death. But nothing prepared me for the early morning last June when I came to consciousness feeling as if I were actually shackled to my own corpse. The whole cave of my chest and thorax seemed to have been hollowed out and then refilled with slow-drying cement.

He’s taken by squad to the hospital and eventually learns about the cancer. One of his lymph nodes can by palpated from the outside! “It’s not at all good when your cancer is “palpable” from the outside,” he writes.

So, so sad. Damn cancer. Damn, damn cancer.


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