Friday, June 09, 2006

"Small Bald Circus Freaks"

Watched the "Autopsy" episode of House last night, dealing with a terminal 9 year old cancer patient. (No, not from my TIVO word list. I got addicted to House while we were in the hospital, and I'm eagerly watching all episodes, new and old.)

Freakin' GREAT episode. Poetic, with the episode being bookended with Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" at the start and Elvis Costello doing the same song at the end.

(Note: I am so tired of falling in love with songs that are unavailable. I am like a straight woman who keeps getting crushes on gay men. First, it was Dave Matthew's "Glory, Glory" from For the Love of Winn Dixie. Now, Elvis Costello doing "Beautiful." Neither one are available. $%#!!)

Anyway, I relate to House's disdain of sacred cows, his rejection of sloppy sentimentality. I can be the biggest sap in the world, but I think that often what masquerades as sentimentality is dishonest. We don't want to get down into our real emotions. It's messy and scary. Or we're afraid that our true monster selves will be revealed.

Cancer, Baby wrote a terrific essay about this (and was lambasted for it), specifically on the topic of "survivor worship." I share the thoughts she had (sadly, she passed away recently) -- the flip side of survivor worship and any of the accompanying platitudes -- "He fought cancer and WON! He's a WINNER!" -- is the flip side. So, if you fought cancer and died, does that mean you're a loser?

Don't get me wrong -- I know that attitude can make a difference. But sometimes, it can't.

I remember being in a study group several years ago that was reading Conversations with God. One of the flakier members of my group asserted that one cannot die until one "chooses" to do so.

What a load of crap.

So, Dr. Greg House is fighting any sentimentality about this little girl with terminal cancer. He says he doesn't buy into the whole brave little patient spiel, that there have to be whiny, bratty little cancer patients, too. (Parents will be the first to agree with this. In fact, some have nicknamed the bratty behavior "Stinky Cheese.")

But, he gets to know this little girl. A very special, matter-of-fact, appallingly brave little girl. And despite his vow not to go see her leave the hospital -- the "parade of small bald circus freaks" -- he has to. She has affected him.

Because the truth is, there is an amazing amount of bravery that these kids have. And a lot of wisdom and maturity they get along the way.

When I was a child, I spake as a child ... well, when I was a kid, I read The Diary of Anne Frank. And totally didn't get it. Why was she considered a hero? I asked. She was just writing about normal everyday things.

And now I have put away my childish things. And I understand that what made Anne a hero was her ability to write about the normal everyday things ... while in an attic ... while hiding for her life.

Little Warrior is amazing. I have to force medicine down her three times a day. 5 times, if it's a Bactrim day. She fights me tooth and nail. And after we're done, she cuddles with me. And plays. And tries to climb up the step from the living room into the entryway.

She knows, if she can just climb that one step, the world will be hers.

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