Tuesday, March 20, 2007

book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part II of III)

Read this first:
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part I of III)

Thursday, September 14, 2000

Before leaving school Thursday afternoon I talked to my friend Ink in the lobby. “What are you doing later?” he asked.

“I gotta go see that orthopedic guy.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot. What do you think he’ll say?”

“He’ll probably tell me I have a dislocated hip or some shit,” I said jokingly.

I met my mom at the doctor’s office after school. When he walked into the room he had me stand up and face her. I was butt-naked underneath the gown, so the whole situation was quite awkward. He pushed around my back and ass for over a minute as I stood there getting more and more nervous. Just say it’s a stress fracture! Quit fucking with me.
Finally, after groping me for much longer than I felt was warranted, he said, “Something is definitely growing there.” Growing there – what the fuck does that mean? You want to clarify that?
He then referred me to another orthopedic surgeon located in Washington, DC. “Dr. M&M is one of the best,” he assured me before leaving his office.

When we left I said to my mom, “What is it? What does ‘growing’ mean?”

“I’ll tell you at home,” she replied.

The drive home was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I kept pondering the possible meaning of what he had just said. The word CANCER scrolled through my brain over and over again, but it scrolled too fast to register. When I got home, I waited at the kitchen table for my mom to walk through the front door, my leg twitching nervously. When she did, she slowly walked up the steps with a melancholy look on her face, and sat at the table. After staring at me for several seconds, she gave it to me straight: “Benjamin…you have a tumor.”


That was the turning point in my life, the four words that split it into two distinctly different phases: Phase I is PCB, or Pre-Cancer Ben. My first 16 years, 8 months, 14 days and 16 hours (approximately) cover Phase I. Phase II begins with, “You have a tumor,” and will end the day I die.

After a very long pause she said, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“No you’re not, I can see you’re not fine.”

“I’m going downstairs.”

I was on the brink of tears, but I didn’t cry that day. I immediately walked downstairs and called my best friend since birth, Sly.

“Dude,” I said in a choked voice, “I have something to tell you.”

“What is it?”

“…I have a tumor.”

After a short pause Sly said, “Oh my God, I think I just shit myself.”

He came over to my house and we played NFL Blitz 2000 on Nintendo 64. I didn’t care what activity I participated in, I just wanted something, anything to do. When my dad came home from work, he immediately went to my room and rubbed my head, then kissed my forehead without saying a word. That night I told my other lifelong best friend, Downtown. In case it was a false alarm I told them, “Keep this to yourselves for the time being. I don’t want to blow it out of proportion if it’s nothing.”

That night my parents called JD, who was away at college, to tell him. I can’t even imagine how he must’ve felt. Sometimes I try to imagine what it would feel like if HE were the one that got cancer, and it makes my stomach hurt every time. My mom also called her sister. Once my aunt heard the news, she started crying.

The next night I was alone in the computer room and I started crying for the first time in years. When it began I was trying to decide whether or not I should cry hard or just drip a few tears. My final decision was to go all out which included the strange noises, head jerking and snot flow. After about two minutes I felt awkward, so I stopped and vowed never to cry again.

I was scheduled for a needle biopsy to determine if the tumor was malignant or benign. In my head I already knew it was cancer. My pain got worse over the months, so it must be growing. That means cancer, right?
On Sunday night I told Sly and Downtown to start spreading the word. I was no longer concerned with how other people became aware of my situation. I just didn’t give a shit any more. I was deliberately dramatic, which isn’t usually part of my personality. “Make somebody cry for me,” I said.

The week before this I was worrying about my AP History test on early American colonies, but after learning I had a tumor, school seemed less important.

Keep reading:
book excerpt: Forever Sweet Sixteen (Part III of III)


Anonymous said...

If you're not getting comments on these postings from your book, it's not because people are not reading or are not moved. It's because nobody knows what to say in the presence of this kind of honesty and intensity. You are a remarkable writer, and I feel humbled in the presence of your words.

P said...

I am thoroughly enjoying everything you write. I'm not typically a blog reader. In fact I didnt even intend on reading everything you've ever written on this page in this sitting. For the sake of understanding what I mean, I'll let you know I was actually on Hiphopgame.com 15 minutes ago checking for the latest Redman freestyle when I read 7:30's hiphop-ish blog that linked to this. I thought I'd check it out cuz 7:30 has an entertaining writing style and I figured he'd only link me to something equally entertaining and hiphop related, but I found this. I read the first one, and now I've sequentially rolled through every single one! As cliched as this is going to sound, I lauged, and almost cried (not really but I did feel pretty sad at certain points). I'll buy whatever you end up releasing! (I also dont typically buy books)