Uh, it's alright. Could be better. Not so much that I don't like the concept, I'm just not sure I wrote this well. Well, review and tell me what you think. Or stop following me entirely because I've pushed things just a little too far this time. I don't know my own boundaries. Anyhoo, hope you enjoy.
Not To Me
I didn't actually think it was possible. Yes, statistically speaking, it wasn't impossible for this to happen. But I never actually imagined it would happen to me. I was still too young. Who gets diagnosed with lung cancer at forty-six? Apparently I, Kyouya Ootori, do.
At first, I didn't think it was true. I thought my superiors were playing some kind of trick on me. I couldn't be sick. It didn't matter that I hadn't been feeling well or that taking the flight of stairs up to the master bedroom made me winded. I was just old and out of shape. I didn't have cancer.
"Dr. and Mrs. Ootori, there's some news we have to share with you, concerning Doctor Ootori's recent physical examination," Doctor Yagami had said, sitting down behind his desk with a solemn face. I took a physical every year to ensure my health, but no one had ever sat me down before. I had shifted uncomfortably in my seat as Haruhi looked to me with uncertain eyes.
"Dr Ootori, we took a look at your chest x-rays and discovered what appears to be a small tumor in your left lung. Many x-rays lead to false positives, but to be safe I'd like to schedule a CT scan."
That was the beginning. Three kids – an eighteen-year-old son Tsubasa, a fifteen-year-old daughter Kotoko and a ten-year-old daughter Yumi – there was no way I could really have cancer. Too many people needed me. But the CT scan proved otherwise.
"Do you know how many times I diagnosed someone with cancer and thought to myself I'm so glad that isn't me?" I had asked Haruhi the night after being officially diagnosed. We had just gotten Tsubasa to put down the controller and go to bed.
"Every time," Haruhi had said with confidence, certain she knew me that well.
"Not once," I had corrected her. "I just assumed it couldn't happen to me. I was a doctor; doctors don't get sick. I don't even remember the last time I had a cold. I never imagined something like this would happen to me. I always gave my diagnoses in a detached sort of way, like I was above illness. I guess I was wrong."
"You'll get through this, Kyouya," she had whispered, eyes filling up with tears. I had kissed her forehead and told her that I deeply hoped she was right.
I quickly discovered that I hated chemotherapy with a passion. I'd rather be spitting up blood than my lunch. After each session, I felt so exhausted and ill. What I hated most about chemo was when the kids would come. Yumi was at that age where she was just beginning to fully understand what all these machines meant; that her daddy was dying. I hated when she'd curl up in my lap, or when Kotoko would sit with me and play cards, or when Tsubasa would read Baudelaire. After a year of treatment, I stopped letting them be in the same room with me while I was going through chemo. It really made Haruhi angry.
"Do you have any idea what you're doing, you bonehead?" she had yelled. All the while I was still hooked up to those accursed machines.
"I don't want them to see me like this, Haruhi. I don't even want you to see me like this but you never were one to take orders," I had replied, trying in vain to make a joke out of a sorrowful situation.
"If I were dying, I'd want the last thing my children remember about me to be me – no matter how sick I was – instead of a closed door. You could die! Don't you want them to be with you?"
It had been one of the first times either of us had used the term dying so liberally. She had looked at me with so much worry in her eyes.
"I don't want the kids to remember you as frail either, but I do want them to remember you, especially Yumi. It's important that they're with you now Kyouya. Because God forbid, they could be not seeing you for the rest of their lives. You know the survival rate for lung cancer patients in somewhere in the area of twenty percent. Is this how you want to live your dying days?"
I never forgot those words. Only Haruhi could yell at me like that. She actually had me really afraid. I always distanced myself from death. It was juts a word. It didn't have implications. I wasn't going to leave anyone behind, nobody would miss me. Death was just a word overused in too many sappy romance novels. That day, she made me feel it, taste in on my tongue and see, not my future, but the future of my kids in a world without me. I'm not necessarily a philosophical man, and I don't have many thoughts as to what comes after death, but I do know that my death won't mean the death of the world. My children will have to go on living. Haruhi was right, no matter how much it pains me to admit it. So I let them stay with me.
I lived through the chemo, somehow. Two years of that crap! What happened to all those lovely stories of once a week for twelve weeks? That would have been a blessing. No, a blessing would have been never getting sick in the first place. Twelve weeks would come in at a close second.
For my last chemo treatment, Haruhi was working on a big case so Tsubasa drove me to the hospital. I almost liked it better when he drove me. He didn't want to talk about things like how I was feeling; not physically, mentally I mean. He'd just turn on the radio and play some soft rock while tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. It was relaxing. But not that day.
"Hey Dad, I've been meaning to talk to you about something," he had begun, taking a deep breath.
"Yes?" I had inquired.
"You know I've liked Hikari for a while now."
"I do. She's a wonderful girl," I had replied. Hunny and Mori's eldest daughter Hikari had caught my son's eye quite a few years ago at her fourteenth birthday party when she had slapped a partygoer for making fun of her bad eye. What can I say, like father like son, attracted to spunky, powerful women.
"I was thinking about asking her out," Tsubasa finally had spat, his grip tightening on the wheel. I knew why he was so nervous. Mori and Hunny were quite protective of their daughters, which made sense as they both had handicaps; Hikari being blind in her right eye and Kahoko being born without legs.
"Go for it," I had chuckled. "It'll save us some money. You and I will just share a coffin."
Tsubasa had gone silent. "You're not gonna die, Dad. I know we're all nervous about it but you really won't. Not just yet."
"And neither will you," I had replied. "Your uncles will warm up to the idea of you dating their daughter if you treat her right. It's not you that bothers them; it's the whole dating shebang. They don't want to see their baby girl get hurt."
"I won't hurt her," Tsubasa had whispered. And then louder he added, "I probably couldn't even if I tried. Half blind, yes. Able to kill you seven different ways with her bare hands, also yes."
Let's get one thing straight, I'm not a sappy person. I don't like to dwell on things. I don't try to remember all the bad things from the past four years. I mostly try to aim for the good, even though the bad things manage to worm their way in anyway.
I'm not being pessimistic though. Because even though I hate the thought that all this has happened to me, I'm so grateful for what I've been given. I have an excellent wife, three beautiful children, and amazing friends. It's everything a man could ever ask for. And there's still so much more.
As of one and a half years, I, Kyouya Ootori, am in remission. I'm not exactly in the clear and who knows, maybe I'll relapse. But that's okay for now. I have so much to be thankful for and if there's one thing cancer gave me, you know besides headaches and vertigo, it's optimism. Because I've come to accept the fact that I can in fact die and that no, I'm not immortal. But I'm no longer going to live my life in the shadows. I'm not going to hide from life. Going out a shriveled old man can't happen.
Not to me.