“Statistical Abstract of Our Greatest Fear” by Macy Miller

In 1849 Esther Howland created the first American

valentines. There are about 220,000 marriage

proposals and about 114 million Hallmark cards

exchanged every February 14th. The money racking

holiday consumes over $18.2 billion dollars a year,

costing, on average, $136.57 per person.

700,000 Americans are reported to be living with a brain

tumor. Of those seven hundred thousand, 138,054 tumors

will spread throughout its host’s body,

starting from the brain,

sneaking into various organs,

taking over as if

they’re the landlord kicking out a submissive tenant. In 2017,

26,070 people received a malignant brain tumor diagnosis

that only 34.7% of those will quote on quote

survive.

On average, every six minutes a person dies from

a blood clot. There are two types of blood clots: deep

vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. The symptoms

of the two include swelling in a leg or arm,

pain, skin discoloration of reds and blues,

shortness of breath,

chest pain,

rapid heart rate,

and an unexplained cough.

Cirrhosis is caused by a handful of things:

extended alcohol use,

chronic hepatitis B, C, and D,

autoimmune hepatitis,

 non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,

and diseases that damage or destroy ducts.

As one’s liver starts to slowly decay as the scar tissue dominates the healthy

 live tissue. Symptoms like weight loss,

vomiting, fatigue,

spider veins

become more apparent as the blood flow through the liver

fades away like an ice cube evaporating in a summer’s sun.

The liver performs over 500 different chemical functions affecting almost

every

single

physiological process in the body. This disease is the

7th leading cause of death among adults in the United States between

24 and 64.

 

 

My mom introduced me to her boyfriend Jim

when I was in the 10th grade.

Jim was never shy, always honest,

and a friend to every person he met.

He’d never turn down a good time and

a glass of dry chardonnay. He taught me how

to keep my head down when I swing a golf club,

how to never ask someone if they’d like another drink,

and how to deep sea fish while drinking beer.

He taught me to look someone straight in the eye

as an equal

and as a human being.

No matter their bank statement or outfit.

Falling at the top of the statistical average, he was 63.

My mom’s younger brother was injecting his

blood-thinner medicine into his stomach because

the insurance wouldn’t pay for an oral pill.

He stopped taking his medicine because he was tired of

cleaning the small blood stains on his shirt

from the injection sites across his stomach.

It was 2:36 am

when my aunt found him lying face down in the

hallway of their flat-roofed Sarasota home.

15 days before Jim.

June 2017, my neighbor, though more like an uncle, tried to

use his credit card to open his Ford F-150

in the Home Depot parking lot. The oxygenated

blood in his brain dwindled as did the strength in his legs.

His daughter called 9-1-1

begging for an ambulance to arrive. Mr. Joe spent the

last six months of his life fighting to regain his speech with

a question mark scar on the right side of his head.

My grandpa had been battling depression since my

grandma died in 2004 but made sure to always send our

family cards because that’s what she would have wanted.

February 10, 2009 he sent me a Valentine’s Day Hallmark card.

For some reason, my cheerleading competition warranted

me to be “too busy” to call

one last time.

I received a five dollar bill

and a signed Hallmark card that said,

‘Love You – Pa Miller.’

That year, he gave his wife the best valentine’s gift

that doesn’t have a price tag.