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  • Little Joe is dying

    Big Joe is the one who tells us. You can tell Big Joe is trying not to cry. Big Joe says that Little Joe has only a few weeks to live. The doctor says that radiation. Chemotherapy. None of that will help Little Joe. It is too late. The word is metastasis.

    Children, can you spell it? M-E-T-A-S-T-A-S-I-S.

    Now it is only a question of providing Little Joe with quality care so that Little Joe does not suffer.

    Little Joe is suffering. Little Joe does not want to die. He is scared.

    Big Joe says Little Joe is too weak now to move about. He spends his days in his bed. Soon. Maybe he will have to be moved to a hospice.

    Little Joe does not have hair. No eyebrows.

    Little Joe and Big Joe almost died one time in Hawaii, a storm heaved their kayaks out to the sea, pulling them away from the shore. No matter how hard they paddled, the ocean swirled them away from land, into the infinity of that gray blue water, gray blue sky. They could no longer see the shore, only these giant waves, the pelting rain, obscuring their vision, the seasickness, the tipsy fear of capsizing .

    Both Big Joe and Little Joe thought they were going to drown that day.

    Little Joe shouted: "No matter what happens, baby, I want you to know I love you! I love you! More than anyone I have ever known!"

    Big Joe yelled: "Shut up! Just paddle!"

    By the time they saw again a scrim of land on the horizon, their muscles were already cramped, but they kept paddling, paddling, paddling, against the tides, against the wind, against the fear, the fatigue, they became a machine, synchronized, they paddled, with one focus, it was as if they were one breath, one body, four arms, one heart beating.

    Both Big Joe and Little Joe laughed when they told us the Hawaii story.

    Little Joe liked to bake. Chocolate chip cookies. German honey cakes. Pecan pies.

    But for Big Joe's 40th Birthday, Little Joe made a carrot cake which is Big Joe's favorite dessert.

    After Big Joe blew out the candles (just four little twiggy ones), Little Joe told Big Joe: "I love you more than anyone in the world."

    This time, Big Joe said: "I love you too, Baby."
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