The Big C

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The Three Cathy Jamisons

"I want us to grow to be old, incontinent idiots together," he says, and it all comes rushing back. They won't be old together. They won't grow anywhere together. He'll still be a child, she'll be dead. Passport to your life as a widower.

"I'm not that normal girl anymore. But you're still kind of that guy. The guy who dumps sand into my living room and doesn't wonder, you know, who's gonna clean up the mess?"

He whines, he moans, he screams. A hostage. He has no idea what mess she's talking about.

"Jesus, Cathy, way to ruin the moment. You know, you used to love the guy who did silly shit like this. You married the guy who did silly shit like this!"

Cathy Jamison still loves that guy. More than anything. More than she needs him.

"I've changed. And I don't know if you can. And I don't know if I have a right to ask you to."

He is wounded, he is limited, he is terrified because he knows the hit is coming and he doesn't know from where. How can she be leaving him when she's right there in front of him? Of all the Cathy Jamisons, why is she taking them away from him, one by one? First the wife and then the memory of his wife and then what? What happens next?

"It's ironic, because the girl that I married -- that kind, sweet, funny, smart girl, the girl who loved me -- I kind of wish she'd stuck around."

That's all she wants to do. Cancer sucks.

Back out, down the path of seashells, into the car. Hurting, angry, confused, alone, built for two, she doesn't check her mirrors, maybe couldn't see him she had. She backs over Thomas and she hears him scream.

Marlene meets her at the vet's, angry as usual, beautiful as ever; Cathy reels out her apologies and how Thomas won't leave her alone and Marlene, who has the message, can't let her apologize anymore.

"What kind of cancer is it?"

She's been waiting so long for the question she didn't even hear the question; for a second she thinks Marlene means the dog Thomas, that she is addled, that they're at his doctor because he's sick. Marlene shakes her head, impatient. She sits:

"No. What kind of cancer do you have?"

That's why Thomas won't leave Cathy Jamison alone. The message wasn't about loneliness, he wasn't about Paul or about Adam or about Sean or anything else. He was just trying to make her clean again.

"He followed my husband around the last year he was alive. Colon cancer. That dog had his head halfway up Eddie's ass for months."

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The Big C




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