Breaking A Little

Fuck CancerImage by califmom via Flickr

The night before last, a friend recommended a TV show called Breaking Bad. Cool. I needed something new to watch. It was kind of late, but I'd been sick and napping a lot, and couldn't sleep, so I downloaded the first season from iTunes. If you haven't seen Breaking Bad and don't want me to spoil it for you, stop reading now. Some of the plot details are key to the telling of this story.

He told me the show was about meth. Again, awesome. I thought. Like Weeds, I thought. I love Weeds

More intense than Weeds, I was promised. 

Perfect, I thought.

I am so over watching endless episodes of CSI and NCIS with my kids. One more crime scene and campy set and I'm going to become forensic evidence.

The show finished downloading. I fired up Episode 1. I'm in love. The show sucked me in like a Hoover on full tilt. I didn't pay much attention to the fact that the main character's motivation is his recently diagnosed inoperable lung cancer. 


I was too busy riding the high of the drug culture I know nothing about. The chemistry. Literally. Mixing, cooking, making "glass." One character coming undone while another comes together. Bodies dissolving in acid. The decomposition of human remains into basic elements. 

This doesn't cause me to bat an eye. 

I watched more episodes.

The coughing, struggling to breathe, spells of obvious illness within--the hidden signs that cancer is eating his body? They made me wince a little, but I ignored them as the plot jumped into the next adrenaline-pumping scene. Until it didn’t. Until it jumped into an oncologist's office.

And I started to break. Just a little. But the show slid along just in time for me to get it back together.

And then it skipped ahead to him lying on the table, lining up the lasers on his chest for radiation, and I started to shake. 

Because I couldn't be in the room when that happened. Nobody could be in that room but Bob. It took only two minutes each time. It did nothing to help him. In fact, it probably just made things worse--let the cancer go crazy everywhere else while they tried to target that one spot. I had to sit by helplessly waiting, wondering if it was working, watching him die, watching him know he was dying. So, I shook. And the tears welled up.

Then the character sat in the chemo chair. His wife sat alongside him, like I sat alongside my husband. The camera went in for a close up of the red liquid going into his vein, like the red liquid that went into Bob's veins, the one that he could taste in his mouth the minute they started to inject it. The same one Bob's sister could taste as she sat with us because she'd had it twelve years earlier and it's THAT kind of taste--a taste you don't forget. 

And then, much like the last year of my life, I don't know what happened next. I don't remember if I turned it off or kept watching. I want to keep watching. I feel like I need to keep watching, just like I needed to take my friend to the hospital the week of Bob's funeral so I could get over that "first." Just like I needed to take my daughter to a doctor's appointment and watch them take her vital signs so I could get over that "first." 


Growing up, I rode horses like some kids rode bicycles. We lived next to BLM land. We'd ride for miles behind our house, and unlike falling off your bike in front of your house, falling off your horse that far from home made for a long-ass walk back. When you got thrown from your horse, you had to get back on. Plus, the view was better than staying there on your ass. Maybe this is one of my horses, trying to throw me. Fuck it if you think I'm not getting back on.