No Laughing Matter

New York, New York

A knock on the door. my hand squeezed Jim’s. This is really happening. A serious-looking woman entered the hospital’s pre-op area.

“Hi, I’m one of the surgeons,” she said. “I want to go over the procedure with you.” She explained how she would put some wirelike thing through a vein in my thigh and thread it all the way to my brain, where she would then cauterize the blood vessels feeding the tumor, all to reduce the risk of bleeding for the main act—the craniotomy and removal of the tumor—the next day. “Do you have any questions?” she said.

“I have five children at home,” I said, before realizing that wasn’t actually a question. My mind was still on the end-of-life directives I’d signed minutes earlier. “The thing is, they really need me.”

“Absolutely,” the surgeon said.

I turned to Jim, my husband of 13 years, a standup comedian, my writing partner and father to Marre, Jack, Katie, Michael and Patrick. All I could think was: I believe in a God of miracles, but at that moment in April 2017, I couldn’t imagine them surviving without me, even

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