Today is a sad anniversary for a lot of us who grew up listening to the Beatles and their leader, John Lennon. It was thirty years ago today, December 8, 1980, that Lennon died, murdered outside his home by Mark David Chapman, for whom he had earlier in the day signed a copy of his new album, Double Fantasy. His tragic death at the hands of a self-professed fan is one that for members of our generation at least is annually marked by the same somber question that haunts us still about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy: where were you when you heard about it?
I was at home watching the Monday Night football game between the Patriots and the Dolphins. John Smith of the Patriots came onto the field to attempt a field goal whenHoward Cosell interrupted the broadcast to announce what had happened. At first, I didn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe it. Thought perhaps I had misheard what had been said. But Cosell provided details that were too horrible not to be true: “Lennon, perhaps the most famous Beatle … shot twice in the back … pronounced dead at the hospital.” It was a moment that seemed to hang motionless in the air, suspended by disbelief but at the same time denied that disbelief, and all I could think of while caught in the trap of it was the long ohhhh at the end of the word “No!”
I read the news today, oh boy …
The (Teapublican) Army had just won the war.
A crowd of people turned away,
But I just had to look,
Having read the book …
Every day I read the news and every day the news I read is worse. American higher education is under siege. K-12 education is under siege. It’s a war out there. Battle lines have been drawn from sea to shining sea as Republican governors and their legislatures no longer make a secret of their ambition, which is to defund public education, end tenure, and, with the help of the filthy rich, rid the land of the scourge known as the cultural elite.
ALEC, which is the well-funded conservative group responsible for writing template-based legislation to attain those ends no longer makes a secret of its existence, much less of its funding, which comes directly from wealthy families, such as the notorious Koch brothers, and wealthy corporations, such as many of those whose profits have never been healthier due to two long wars, the Wall Street bailout, and deregulation carried out by the Bush administration. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but don’t you think it is something other than a mere coincidence that corporations have more cash on hand than ever before in history, there are no jobs for college graduates, and the rhetoric rising to a fever pitch on the right suggests that college is no longer a good investment because there are no jobs for graduates?
Yesterday San and I met with Dr. Robin to listen to and talk about the results of the most recent CT-scans of my chest and abdomen, my labs, and what should be our “next step.” We drove to the Four Winds Cancer Clinic and agreed that no matter what the news might be, we would take a little time before agreeing to reenter chemo.
We figured chemo might be the only answer for the pain I was experiencing in my abdomen. But chemo has a downside, many downsides really, not the least of which has been a “loss of self,” which is a label I use to describe the longer and longer recovery time from a round of chemo, during which time I am basically “Dr. Bud in the chair” over there and not much else.
But not becoming the resident broccoli in the room was only one of our “end-of-life/quality of life” concerns.
Readers of this blog know that prior to that meeting with Dr. Robin, I was worried about what the scans might show, given the surprisingly sharp pain I was experiencing in my abdomen throughout the day and the strange spasms that woke me up at night. When a concern about pain emerges in our narrative it is always accompanied by a corresponding concern with time, as in “how much time might I have left?” It’s not a question with an answer. At least, not usually a good one.