Creative Writing / Repeat after me: death. And other essays. / The Latest

#4 The Inheritance


I have my Father’s eyes

Almost green-grey.

I have my Father’s height.

I have his love of reading books.

I have his impatience.

I have his nose.

I have my Father’s fierce loyalty.

I have his toes.

I have my Father’s fine, wispy hair.

I have my Father’s bad eyesight.

For that,

I have glasses.

I have my Father’s love of boats.

I have his love of cooking.


This, I know with certainty.


“The cancer is genetic,” the doctor tells me.

I should monitor my health,

but try not to worry.

So I sit at home listening to the silence between my own heartbeats

to see if I can hear it growing inside me.

“You shouldn’t have to worry until you’re old,” the doctor reassures me.


But the chemo wards tell a different story.

A young woman was told to go home, plan the last of her days.

“Be with the family,” the nurse says.

Her husband is distraught, “We have three young kids…”

He looks around the room and as he catches my eyes,

I think with a horrible relief, “lt’s not us. Not today.”

He starts to cry

Falls to his knees and beats the ground.

He lets out a sound that is not even human.

The nurses escort him to the waiting room.

I hear them say,

“Take these, they’ll help you relax.”


Our day comes.


It’s the Melbourne Cup.

My Father’s oncologist says, “Go watch the race.”

(It will be your last)

Six to twelve months.

Twelve if the new drug works.

Quality, not quantity.


The drugs don’t work.


I don’t hope.

Can’t hope.

Want to hope…

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