Son of a Widow


My father was very quiet when he passed on.

Proceeding news of the cancer, he grew increasingly irate – relentlessly cursing the world and science and his God for cursing him with such malicious and unjust fate. Such fiery, energetic passion and fury did not last though.
Rather, in his final days, my father was quiet. It was not resignation so much as pure exhaustion. He was not tired from the therapy or the doctors, he was tired from the sorrow. The regret of not watching his son grow up, and his failure to provide for his wife. It was a wretched, numbing agony that weighed upon his heart like snow on an old, leafless branch. In his last hours, my father was begging to break and finally rest, to be buried under that snow.

I once found a half-finished letter in a crumbled ball, washed into the gutter on a rainy day. In smeared blue ink it pleaded that her son please consider inviting his father to his graduation party. He worked so hard, and he does love you, and it would mean the world to him. It had no return address, no signature, just the stains of tears that fell from the sky to wash away all intention.

My mother wasn’t the same, but that change came well before my father’s passing, so when he finally left her the greif was softened, as softened as a bullet can be by such sun-stained armor. She didn’t know, but I used to lean on my door and listen as she meandered through the house, rehearsing the art of futility in an effort to perfect what promised to be a masterpiece of loneliness. If she didn’t have me, she would have thrown such efforts to the wind, and when the threat of my leaving was hurriedly whispered into her ear, she seemed all too glad to take the excuse and smash her future into pieces, throwing mine to the ground to lay with the fragments.

And lay there, I did, each piece of glass eagerly digging into my flesh, red stains seeping their way through my fur. My fur, my god, even my skin reminded me of my mother, every day waking up and being reminded of her soft white embrace, how warm it was, and how cold it became when she hung from her neck, suspended by the rafters of that old house.

“Don’t you get enough sleep, Artie? You always look so tired, like you’re gonna fall over at any second.”
“Can’t sleep sometimes, too much on the mind, you know?”
“Sure would like to have a brain like yours! Always thinking.”

I was seen as a very advanced child, so intelligent beyond my years, and the school wanted me to skip a grade. My mother was all for it, but my dad would have no part of it. He didn’t want me to skip that year of social development, he said. I couldn’t skip that year of making friends and learning lessons.

Ultimately it seems I failed. My fur comes from my mother, and from my father comes my quiet, studious attitude. But I failed to pass on one trait of my father, and I felt no rage about this sickness. I moved straight to the quiet, brooding silence and the dark, straining exhaustion.

Most people don’t ever see it, and those who do only catch the slightest hint of it, but I ache. I ache all over, slightly at first but with growing agony as each day grows old. Sometimes I lay on the floor and don’t get up, either by choice or by surrender. The pills help, but they make me dizzy, and it makes it hard to think straight. I could not have written this, at this hour, if I had taken the pills.

Sleep really is one of the only reliefs I have, but even that has been taken from me. But there’s always tomorrow night for that, right?


  1. pacmanjames says:

    “it’s the FALL not the IMPACT that kills you” hang in thare things can get better

    • Big Red Pharaoh says:

      My personal favorite saying is “If you’re going through hell, don’t hang out.”

  2. QuetzaDrake says:

    Poetic. Deeply poetic. Beautiful metaphors for a tragic story.

  3. WhiteTestement says:

    You’ll make it Artie you’ll make it…….

  4. An Cat Dubh says:

    I have so much empathy for you. I can really relate to you (also being a child progidy and an aspiring writer). I wish I could meet you some day; I’ll probably give you a huge hug and burst into tears.
    I once wrote this story as a pseudo-work of yours, maybe you’ve read it. It’s not nearly as powerful and moving as your true story.
    I hope you’ll get over it.

    • Artie says:

      I hope so too, but it’s not likely. Never before have I ever wished to be human!
      Insurance companies are notoriously racist in regards to furry kind. It’s considered impossible for any fur with a pre-existing condition to get any sort of useful insurance.
      Pretty difficult to chemo in the brain, so it’s not like insurance would help much nowadays.

      But, still, we soldier on, don’t we?

      • Big Red Pharaoh says:

        Your comment brings an interesting question to mind:
        What is the attitude of furs toward humans?
        Are there any particular concerns or prejudices one way or the other?

        • Artie says:

          Depends on who you ask, and where.
          Most furries don’t mind humans as long as they’re behaving like adults and allowing furs to live their life. I’m in this group. I don’t love humans, I don’t hate them, they’re just someone with whom we have to share the world.
          Others are resentful towards them, and it’s not difficult to see why. Lots of humans do not hate furries, and make great effort to limit and reduce our freedoms. Lots of hate crimes from both camps. Joel is among the furs who simply do not like humankind.
          Still others, though not many, are envious of the humans, some going so far as to wish they were human. There are furries who shave all their fur in an effort to be more human. Some remove their tails and claws.
          I honestly find that sort of thing sickening. Like I said, my thoughts towards humanity as a whole are neutral, but I would certainly hope that furries would retain a since of pride!

          • An Cat Dubh says:

            Pity to hear. Is there internal racism among furries (like anti-amphibian or things like that)?
            Trying to become humans? I honestly don’t see why one would want to do that. Lacking tail and claws… It’s like a whole species suffering from aposthia. I’ve never heard a furry saying ‘I’m only furry’, but humans saying ‘I’m only human’… I wish I were a furry. I’ve adopted a character of a black cat as an alter-ego. Are there humans who actually turn into furries?
            I’ve heard Joel mention ‘species change operation’; how is that done?

            By the way: what did you mean by ‘I hope so too’, that you hope to get better or meet me (or both)?

            And one last thing before I become completely intolerable, a friendly tip: when you used your snow metaphore in the first paragraph, I thought the snow should become a theme, making some sort of ‘echo’ to the main plot. Thanks to you, I can really understand what it means; beforehand I found symbolism to the story itself redundant, now I see how it can add to the aesthetic quality of the work. You can find a good example for these in Chekhov’s ‘Burden’ (I think it’s called this way in English; in Hebrew, there are two versions, ‘Sorrow’ and ‘Burden’) and Amos Oz’s ‘The Way of the Wind’ (both are short stories).

            • Artie says:

              There’s some inter-fur racism, yes, though we’ve nothing that can compete to that slavery nonsense that America went through. There are plenty of historic examples of it in tribal situations of course.

              I don’t understand the desire to become human either. Sometimes it’s a way of, hopefully, being more accepted by their human peers (doesn’t work!), but other times it’s just honest species disassociation. I don’t know if that’s classified as a psychological disorder yet.
              There are humans who try to go the other way, too. There are some very advanced cosmetic/costume methods available, some rather convincing at a quick glance. There have been some news stories regarding advances in actual surgeries – fur grafting and muzzle construction – but it’ll be a long time until anything remotely convincing can be made out of a human.
              The same applies to species change operation, like Joel mentioned. There are ways and there has been progress, but nothing that would fool anybody.

              “I hope so too” = I sure hope I don’t die!

              I don’t like making themes out of metaphors because I think it tends to get boring by the end of it. It’s fine in poetry, but it tends to get in the way when in a narrative.

              • Kael says:

                that sucks. either way I am a human and I love furries. The fur is awesome. Artie you are so cute…and OMG ur so cute…lol…watch out i read nicole’s comments and both him and me wanna rape u…8D …don’t blame me…ur hot and uncut…*sigh*…anyway ur cancer will be fine… all will be fine…hang in there…i hope u live…noone that hot should be allowed to die…

              • Ed B. says:

                I hope you get well, Artie, I’ve lived through some things kind of like your situation, and I know how badly it can suck.

                Recently lost a friend who just couldn’t take it any more. Schizophrenia is just awful. Or at least that’s what we thought it was. Turns out it was probably something more treatable. Unfortunately before he could get treated, the psychosis got bad enough that he killed himself, most likely on the thought that it would protect us from the people he had hallucinated to be “after him”.

                I guess what I’m trying to say is that one should never give up hope. Even when things seem the most clear, we often don’t have enough perspective to realize what we’re not seeing…That the light at the end of that pain-filled tunnel isn’t a bullet train barreling forward to crush us, but a beacon lamp leading us towards a healthy cure.

  5. Big Red Pharaoh says:

    Does your writing style come easily, or does it take a lot of work?
    All the metaphors…
    Seems to have taken a *ton* of forethought.

    • Artie says:

      It comes natural at this point. I’ve spent most of my life reading, and I’ve been writing on-and-off since early high school (I have an English teacher to thank for that – maybe I’ll write about her some day).

  6. K says:

    Truely move and don’t worry sleeps embrace may give us tempory peace but the greatest wepon of all is hope and to act strong the people that remember you will of been honored to have known someone as yourself.

  7. Lakeyface says:

    Wow. Pretty powerful stuff, you’ve weaved an elegant and moving peice here, and allowed for a great empathy to build up from your reader.
    I truly enjoyed it, and I feel for you, truly I do.
    A good friend of mine got hit by brain cancer too, he always said he hated the pills; but he got over it. I know you’ve got alot more to overcome here, but I wish you the best, with this, and your other grievances.

  8. ari says:

    I think the lesson I learned best from mom’s cancer was to let her have her grief, and to stop telling her “you have to be positive, can’t let it ‘beat’ you” all the time.

    It wasn’t a bad mood, it wasn’t some kind of contest she could win by ‘wanting it bad enough.’ It was an illness and a loss of dignity that deserved a bit of sorrow, when she needed it. In like way, I’ll respect your grief and say only that I hope for your best.

    Fond wishes and regards, Artie. Yours is the story I find hardest to read, so I imagine it will be the one I follow the longest.

  9. Salem Jansen says:

    I have actually have experienced a form of cancer myself, though not as drastic as yours. I could possibly say, “I can relate,” but that would be inaccurate.

    And, I tell you, chemo is not fun.
    Excellent chronicle; poetic form, excellent metaphors and analogies. I truly love it.

    I wish the best for you, Artie.

    • Artie says:

      …Does it hurt?
      Honestly, I haven’t researched it. Not being able to afford it formed a bit of a determent from looking into it, plus… I suppose I’m a little afraid of the idea.

      • Salem Jansen says:

        It’s not painful, no.
        But it saps the life out of you… And the hair-lo–
        Maybe I shouldn’t talk about that to a furry…

        Anyway, let’s just leave it at “It’s not fun”.
        The best you can do is hope, and keep trying.

        Hang in there! You’ve got support from e and many others!

  10. Insignificance says:

    Your father went so quietly…
    The paternal one (mine) would have gone insane, praying constantly, angrily cursing fate for bringing him this disease.
    And after reading this, I realize how much of a relief sleep is.

  11. Shaloxeroligon says:

    Well, Artemis, I honestly don’t know what to tell you.

    Your story was powerful and very moving.

    I’m sure that this is truly a difficult time for you, and I can’t relate in any way. Just remember that you’re not in this alone.

    On the subject of treatment, it’s a shame, really, that the health care system is so cruel to you guys. Also, I hear that if one combines chemotherapy with radiation treatment, there is a much greater chance that the cancer will diminish. In fact, that’s what they plan on doing for Senator Kennedy.

  12. Zalno says:

    It’s funny. My grandmother is currently in her 80′s, and she has cancer. There have been times when the cancer would cause problems, but she’s always fights her way back to health. I guess all you need to do is stay strong and don’t give into the pain. :)

  13. Wolf_of_Fenrir says:

    Artemis, this story is moving, and I think to most of us it has given a window into your mind, and really given us as good a perspective that someone who has not suffered cancer of that sort can relate to. The fact that you’re still able to go on and interact, with something like that happening really speaks volumes about you, and I respect that.

  14. Big Red Pharaoh says:

    Just outta curiosity…

    Did you have any qualms about writing something as personal as this and “putting it out there”?

    I mean, it’s gotten great responses, so it must be all good…

  15. Rabid says:

    I’m right there with you, man… though… what I’m going through, it hasn’t been going on as long, and I’m not sure I could compare it to this very well.

    I dreaded, and still kinda dread, telling my friends about it… there’s another difference. You have the courage to write about it, put your pain out there. Me? I’m too much of a coward.

    Anyways, getting off topic… just go with what I go with. Nature abhors a vaccuum. So, with every bad event, and equally good one shows up and cancels it out. You just have to look for it.

    I’m still looking for my silver lining.

  16. *offers hugs*
    No words can I say, can ever be more comforting then support of a warm hug from a friend. Always keep hope…

  17. Artie…My best wishes to you…My mother suffered from cancer and I’ve inhereted it as well. We are two of a kind and I wish I could be there for you…
    with love,

  18. Javlon says:

    Hi Artie. I’m rootin’ for ya! ‘Cause…well, I have brain cancer too. I understand what you said about the insurance thing (wayyy up there^), it’s really hard for us furries to get fair protection, even here in Ireland!
    Nice chronicle by the way.

  19. NyteFox says:

    i feel really sorry for you Artie, my parents didnt really care for me so, in a sence i know how u feel. dad was nvr there for me and mom abused me. but life is full of hardships and i learned to get over most of them.

  20. An Cat Dubh says:

    Congradulations on your recovery. I was very happy to see you’re going to get healed. (OK, so I was ecstatic, and thanked the Creator of the Universe very enthusiasticly…)
    I wish you many more splendid years of benefiting the world with your extraordinary wisdom. *Offers hand to shake, then hugs you happily*

  21. Busterdrag says:

    Know how you feel, being a widows sun and loosing his father in early life is a hard thing to swallow.

    Though, I think, it hit you harder than me, with all that cancer shit going on.

  22. XWZ says:

    Dear Artimus,
    without trying to ignore the difficulties of your life and seeming inconsiderate, may i still ask you what your parents did professionally?

    • Artie says:

      My mother was a writer. My father was too, but not professionally – he was a business man or something.

    • FADFRANKIE says:

      listen Artie i sorta blame myself for my grandfather for dying of lung cancer when i asked to stop smoking. i don’t to bore you while my Dad, my brother,and me Frank Bailey was in Florida my Dad got a call from the hospital that my grandmother was in the hospital because she a blood clot in her brain and doesn’t even remember some of the stuff we over our vacation.

      my name is Frank Bailey by the way.

    • FADFRANKIE says:

      listen Artie i sorta blame myself for my grandfather for dying of lung cancer when i asked to stop smoking. i don’t to bore you while my Dad, my brother,and me Frank Bailey was in Florida my Dad got a call from the hospital that my grandmother was in the hospital because she a blood clot in her brain and doesn’t even remember some of the stuff we over our vacation.

    • FADFRANKIE says:

      hey Artie it’s Frank Bailey i fell real that you have you brain cancer i hope the find a cure for brain cancer. anyway fell better. two more things do like any type of music and look look handsome in anything you wear.

  23. Salem Jansen says:


    I’m pleased to see that you’ve recovered, were it so easy for me.

    Note: Actually, I’m just hopping-out-of-my-seat pleased that you’ve recovered.

  24. Rooster says:

    I tell you, when my father recently died of Cancer i took it externally pretty well… But recently, i’ve been told that i am subconsciously grinding my teeth and striking out at some people… I’m not sure whether this is something to do wiht it or not.

    Oh well, either way, Artie you are brilliant! And congrats for winning your own battle against the b*****d that is cancer. Bravo my man!

  25. Vash says:

    I need to ask, is this real is any way or are all these just accounts made my Immelmann. I’m asking because while reading Joel’s one night stand it was easy to tell it was a story, but for some reason this has a taste of realism in it. While that’s never a bad thing the content is rather and story and well to be honest worrying if its true to any degree. I’m most likely wrong but eh just bugged me enough to comment.

    I do so apologize for shattering the fourth wall.
    And do keep going on, we need someone to keep Joel in line

  26. e_voyager says:

    such a beautiful soul cast in the the horrors of a ugly situation. i can’t help but feel for you. don’t bemoan you lack of rage my friend. while it can help for a time rage will generally burn the wielder as sure as if if they were holding a torch form the lit end instead of the handle

  27. Kuroinu says:

    Y’know, Artie, you and Joel were always my favorite, but you were the more, forgive me if you find it inaccurate and mean, emo one. Lemme say, I’m pretty emo myself now due to homophobic parents that strain my emotional being, so if you wanna hangout sometime, maybe listen to some music, watch a movie, i’m game, man. Also, the hair is awesome.

  28. Esabeil Katherine says:

    Artie this is about to break my heart. I am amazed how you stay strong, even after all this. You are truly amazing.