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Retcon [RET-kon] (verb): to change the past events [in a LARP], often to correct the story (derived from retroactive continuity).
Arthur, a lowly and uninspired bard, hates his character. But he’s been cursed so that if he dies, his entire party perishes along with him.
This is the setting for “Retcon,” an episode of Geek and Sundry’s LARPs.
Arthur cares too much to see the entire party die, but he does not want to continue on as a bard. As you watch him drown himself (and his sorrows) in the hot tub at the end of the episode, you can understand his fervent wish for a retcon.
Ah, the retcon. The creator’s bane. Something gets a little too out of control, too confusing, or too boring, and suddenly we just have to go along with a whole new set of information. Certainly, retcons have been done well in the past, but the purist inside every geek cringes a little when they become necessary.
Yet, recently I felt like Arthur. My prayer was this: “Retcon God, please retcon.”
My mother has been battling Stage IV colorectal cancer for the last five years. Recently, she went to the hospital with banana-yellow skin—not a good sign.
An ultrasound and CT scan failed to reveal the problem, but then an MRI told the story. Best case scenario was a gallstone blockage, worst case was complete liver failure. A cancerous tumor on her liver had swelled, causing a blockage. A stint in the liver could remedy the problem, but chemotherapy for the rest of her life would probably be necessary.
The afternoon she received this news, I called her. When my mother picked up the phone, I could hear in her voice that something was wrong.
“I am just so angry,” she told me through tears.
“Angry about what?” I asked.
“I’m mad at God. I’m mad at [your] dad for leaving. I’m mad that I have go through something else. Just as I get over one thing, it’s another,” she said. And what she said next was voiced as a fleeting prayer thrown up to whomever or whatever would listen: “But I’m not ready to leave my babies just yet.”
By babies, she meant her grandchildren. Her youngest grandchild, my son, is only 3 months old. I know that her grandkids are what keeps her going through all the pain of chemotherapy—treatments that reduce her to almost nothing every second week.
For 34 years my mother looked after me, encouraged me, made me soup when I was sick, reminded me that caring for those around me was far more important than that happened to me, and so much more. And now, helpless, I hung up the phone and began to weep too. The episode “Retcon” came rushing back. If my mother was alone, if she had no family, her will to live would have been long gone; yet she plods on through the misery of her current circumstance because of the people around her who she cares about.
I am not sure what I should be expecting. Perhaps a rewrite of long ago health habits or a miraculous about face where against all odds she spontaneously recovers? At this point I don’t care about the details of how this situation changes, I just wish it to be rectified.
My mother, like Arthur, is the bard of our party. She thinks she’s expendable and loses sight of herself and what she has to offer. But the truth is, without her, I am lost. It is my mother’s presence and the presence of those like her that we are encouraged by. It is because we love them, it is because we is not we without them, that we stand over our fallen loved one and, like Kat does for Arthur, call out for a Divine Shield.
And pray with them, “Retcon, God, please retcon.”