Yesterday I attended a wake of a woman who will clearly be missed. The tears of those in attendance were flowing and the soft words of her husband – describing his sadness – were sobering to hear.
I witnessed her five sons dressed impeccably in matching suits receiving condolences from a long line of those wishing to pay their final respects. They were strong and I think for so many who were there, their strength was contagious.
She died of lung cancer. She smoked for years, contracted the cancer, underwent chemotherapy, yet the cancer spread to other parts of her body including her brain. Over the course of 16-months, she suffered, her quality of life diminished and she lost what ultimately is a battle very, very few have even the slightest hope of winning.
Yet of those who were in attendance, there was a man with a voice box (he had throat cancer). Two others, have C.O.P.D. (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Another gentleman was on oxygen.
All from smoking cigarettes.
Additionally, there was a stream of others – including this woman’s own sons – who went outside for constant smoke breaks.
All I can picture is George Carlin wrinkling up his face and yelling into the mic: “What are you fucking stupid!?”
People say how suicide is a cowardly and selfish act. That the person killing themselves doesn’t understand the mental anguish their final act causes on family and friends; especially when, really, the reason for the act is preventable. Yet isn’t smoking just a prolonged suicide? The difference being a drawn-out, painful, death instead of a more instantaneous one?
We’re all aware of what an intervention is, right? Friends and family gather around and tell someone how their addiction is hurting not only themselves, but others as well, and if they don’t stop they’re going to die. Why isn’t it done for people who smoke?
This topic is a personal one for me as my grandmother died of emphysema. I saw the woman who raised me from age two deteriorate before my eyes over a period of about seven years. Her quality of life was virtually non-existent and how her disease affected both my grandfather and I isn’t something to be dismissed.
My father also smoked, had throat cancer, and ultimately died as a result of the habit.
So again there I was at a wake of a woman who, by all accounts, was a wonderful woman, a good mother, and certainly a friend to many – and watching so many people ignoring the example, the proof, that their loved one was taken from them all too soon because of cigarettes.
When will people wake up? When will society simply say ‘enough is enough’?
I have no doubt that anyone who is NOT a smoker made it this far. And like anyone who spends their time reading my drivel, I truly thank you.
Sadly, for those that smoke, my money says they didn’t make it past the title.