Yes, it has been five months since I updated this blog. And that's not to say that nothing has happened in that time, only that I did not have an overwhelming need to work out my emotions about it in writing. Since I last wrote, Jon has, despite my pessimism, gone back to work full time. He has had at least two MRIs, both of which show no additional tumor growth, so the current course of chemo he is on, and which I assume he will remain on indefinitely, is working to keep the nasty little beast in his head in check. He has even been cleared to drive, since he has gone the required amount of time without a seizure, but his doctor told him he would probably never be allowed to drive his motorcycle ever again. He ended up selling his Harley, though he still meets with his motorcycle club. Lack of an actual motorcycle would never be enough to keep Jon away from his club brothers.
So, for Jon, life is as normal as it can possibly be, and I know that means a great deal to him. Despite a once-a-week chemo drip, and the discovery that he really does have to take his anti-nausea medication, his cancer is not the primary focus of his day-to-day life right now. Which means it is also not the focus of mine. Believe me, I never forget that he has cancer; I never forget that this period of calm can change at any moment. And so I do take the opportunities I have to connect with him.
In September, we took a trip to Kentucky to see my husband's family, and I excused myself for two days to drive down to Nashville and spend some time with my brother and sister. I got the feeling that David's family was a bit pissed at me over this, particularly when they found out that Jon was not yet at death's door, but I don't think they understand how much time with him I have lost over the years, and that I cannot afford to squander an opportunity to see him now, no matter how well he may be faring at the moment.
I stopped first at my sister's house, and then we had lunch and drove down to see Jon. We spent the afternoon just hanging out at his house, while his wife went out with some friends to give us some space, and his sons did their usual mysterious teenage boy things. Shortly after we arrived, he asked me to come upstairs with him, and we went into his bedroom for some privacy, where he handed me three DVDs: the collection of music that he had made for me, and which I wrote about in my last post. He had a note for me inside one of the jewel cases, and I read it and we talked, and though we probably just repeated a lot of things we said the last time we saw each other, it was good to re-affirm them. With every conversation, I get a little more knowledge of who my brother is, and who he has become since the days when he was fresh out of the Navy, and I was a gawky teenager who worshipped him.
Then the three of us went out for dinner, to some generic steak and potatoes place that Jon likes, and we drank and ate, and talked about so much. I realized that evening that there is not only a great deal about my brother and sister that I do not know, but also much that they don't know about me, though I suppose that seems obvious. My being born so much later than them was a huge handicap for our relationship, not just because of the age difference, but because of the different way I was raised and treated by our father. I cannot write much about that, because my dad does read this, but that evening, I was able to really open up about a lot of things, to explain how those differences affected me and my view of our family. I learned more about how they saw me, and how they saw those differences, and how that has affected their view of our family.
But the amazing thing was that despite the fact that there were so many disparities in our childhoods, ones which have had consequences for us as adults, none of that matters any more. I thought for years that it was an insurmountable obstacle and that no matter the purity of anyone's intentions, we would never be able to come together as friends, never be able to just enjoy each other's company and enjoy the bond we do share as siblings. But we can and we do and the almost unbearable effortlessness of it makes me so sad for how many years we wasted, but so grateful for what we have now.
After dinner, we drove back to Jon's house and on the way he turned to me and said, "How would you like to stop and get some pie?" He drove into the parking lot of a Shoney's and we laughed like idiots as we realized that Shoney's doesn't make cherry pie - it was strawberry. For a minute, I was mortified that I had misremembered something that ended up being so important, but Jon had a better perspective. "Doesn't matter to me," he said. "Pie is pie." And I knew he meant it. There was some debate about who should hold the pie on the way home, and we decided it should be me, since the same accident couldn't possibly happen twice.
So, on a warm September evening in Tennessee, 28 years later, I finally got to share that pie with my big brother. And I got to have my sister there, too.
It was the best fucking pie I have ever had.