Sunday, November 26, 2006

Where There's Smoke...

On Thanksgiving Day, we went to Kim's house to enjoy the holiday with our family. Kim's Thanksgiving Day feasts have grown with each passing year, and this year was the largest yet: too much food for the kitchen and the dining room table, and too many people to be seated in one room. The guests included someof the family of my niece's boyfriend and some of the family of my nephew's wife.

I noticed that several of the folks would go out onto the patio to smoke. I was glad they were outside; I would have been more glad were they not smoking at all. I am perhaps the most adamant, militant anti-smoker you'll ever find. Not only do I personally object to its offensive smell and its addictive nature, but I also remember what it did to Mom, who died from emphysema caused by decades of smoking before evidence made it clear how damaging the habit could be.

Then I noticed that one of the smokers was my niece, Jess.

I was sad and confused and disturbed. Jess was with us at Mom's bedside when she gasped her last breath before leaving a life that had become horribly painful as her body failed her. She knows what caused that death, and she knows that almost every one of Mom's sisters and brothers has succumbed to emphysema--a sure sign that our family carries a genetic predisposition for this horrible disease. And here's Jess, a member of our family, engaging in a foul and self-destructive habit that could some day put her in the same place where Mom was.

Jess is an adult now, and she gets to make her choices... but this is a choice I wish she'd reconsider.

I said something to her briefly, but she didn't respond; I'm not even sure that she heard the comment, to be honest, since someone else said something at the same time. And now I'm trying to find a way to reintroduce the subject to her.

I'd really like for Jess to live a long time--and should she have a husband and children, I hope that they never have to feel as horrible as Dad and we did as we watched a beloved woman die as a result of an incurable and untreatable illness. And I feel like not saying anything would be condoning the wrong choice...

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