That Dragon, Cancer is an indie video game developed by a mother and father who lost their child to cancer. Lately, video games haven’t been my thing, but I decided if I was going to play I was going to go towards more story driven games. While the game had its bugs and annoying mechanics the story is something that can knock you back on your feet especially if you have children of your own.
I remember when I was told I might have a tumor in my head. I was alone when I was told that and had no support around me to deal with it. The doctor was cold and blunt, telling me we will see for sure after some tests next week. When I went home I was emotionless. It didn’t help I was already like that due to my PTSD, but this made me fall apart a little. I didn’t pray to God or try to reach out to anyone really. When I look back at that and think of my situation now I wonder if my ex-wife would have wanted me to just die. Either way, I was somewhat okay if I died because it would be something I can’t control.
However, if it were my kids I would have prayed to every single God imaginable. I would have given my life and pleaded for anything to be done. Having to watch this family lose their child, even in a pixelated format, broke my heart from start to finish. It reminded me of The Last of Us when Joel was holding his dying daughter at the start. Well, extend that part for about an hour and you get That Dragon, Cancer.
This game helped me grieve even more than I thought I needed. You have to let go of somethings that are out of your control. They had to let go of their son and hope they would see them again, but you could hear the doubt in the father’s voice, which is understandable. I had to let go of someone I loved more than anyone. When I found out she wanted to leave and thought nothing of me as a cancer it broke me. I remember telling her I would love her forever and her saying it back to me, but now, she saw me as nothing but a disease.
The weird thing is I’m not even angry about it anymore. I’m sad, yes, but I knew I had to stop chasing someone that thought the worst of me even after I had changed so much. But my kids are so hurt by this. When I have to hold one of my kids because he is crying saying he may never see me again because of the divorce it breaks my heart. I know where he is getting those ideas. I reassure him that everything would be fine and we both loved his brothers and him. I don’t know what the future holds though. I hate making promises to them that I’m not sure I can keep.
They are the cure for everything that is bad in my life. I love it when I see them when it is my turn to have them. My youngest will laugh with me as we go around the house cleaning and playing games together. My middle child will tell me how much he loves me and how he misses me every day. I stay up late with my oldest as we talk about what he wants to be when he grows up.
I don’t want them to grow up. I can play these moments in my head for an eternity and never get sick of them. I know that when each day passes they are closer to starting their own lives and while I will be beyond proud of that day I also know it will be one of the saddest in my life. I don’t get to see them as much because I failed to keep our family together. That is a burden I will keep with me. It will not define me, but it will mostly certainly help me to grow.
I didn’t think I had any more grief to go over, but this game made it pour out of me and help me heal even more from it. As I said, as a game it is a bit annoying and not something I would want to play again, but the story alone is something so heartwarming and crushingly sad that I would suggest anyone to play it at least once.