Friday, June 26, 2009

My Family Onscreen

If you want to know what life in my family was like, pre-tx, go see "My Sister's Keeper", which just opened in theaters today.
I'm not going to rehash the entire plot, only to say this--Anna Fitzgerald was concieved as a genetic match for her sister, Kate, who has leukemia. Since the time she was born, she has been donating cells, blood, and marrow to save her sister's life. Now her sister is in renal failure, and needs the biggest sacrifice of all--Anna's kidney.
Anna talks about how life can change in an instant. One night, we see the family joking at dinner. The next, Kate is sick and being tended to by paramedics as she vomits blood on the bedroom floor. This reminded me of a time I went into the hospital, and I was lying on the couch while my parents talked to the doctors, wrapped in my mom's winter coat and all the blankets we could find. I was so cold. My brother and sister just sat in the family room and looked at me, while my parents tried to figure out what to do.
Kate's father, Brian, has some mannerisms my own father has, or does things he's done. Sleeping at Kate's bedside, and touching his nose when he wants a kiss (my dad touches his cheek). As he watches her go to prom with her boyfriend, there are tears in his eyes. I don't think my dad cried when I went to prom, but that's neither here nor there. I could understand the expression of a father watching his child do something he didn't think she'd get to do.
Anna helps take care of Kate. There's a sharps box in the girls' bathroom. Bryan and Mel learned how to mix my IV meds, and to flush my lines and my port. Mel could probably even access it, if she had to. She will be able to when she's done with nursing school. During one scene, Kate looks so embarrassed as Anna wipes blood off her face and changes a towel underneath her. Anna does it so matter-of-factly, just like my own siblings have done. But that doesn't mean I felt any better about it.
When Kate needs a prom dress, she needs one that covers her port-a-cath, which is currently accessed. Her boyfriend strokes her back and holds the emesis basin so she can vomit during her chemo treatments.
This family is my family. Sure, things are different. The situations, for one. But the dynamic, that's so similar. Kate feels bad because she takes so much time away from her siblings. Her siblings want to help her but don't know how. Kate wants to stop being a burden to them.
People in the theater were just bawling. The only time I cried was near the end, when Kate and her mother, Sara, are alone in Kate's hospital room. Kate looks at her mother and says, "It was a good one, wasn't it?"
"The best," Sara answers.
That's what I would say. It has been a good one. The best.

1 comment:

Jane said...

Too close to home for me ... but I'm a crier! Or is it cryer? Either way ... I'd probably need IV fluids by the time I was done watching it! :)