+ MARY’S PAGE

(scroll down for latest entries … )

I plan this to be Mary’s page.  I’m not very adept at blogging so uploading fotos and audios is a lttle beyond me right now.  But maybe later.  Someday I’d like to post her Lucha CD.

What I can do right now is transcribe some of her diary pages as I come across them.  You have to understand.  Mary was a clutter-bug.  It was one of the things we had in common, making our life together a happy mayhem.  I call it her “diary” but in reality it was more like sporadic reflections scribbled out in various notepads, litle pocket booklets and even single sheets of paper … all scattered around the house.  I’m constantly being surprised by a new “find.”  So this will be a slow and halting process.  Also transcribing is time-consuming.  Maybe someday I’ll learn to scan them in her own handwriting and post them here.

Today, on the occasion of the third anniversary of her death (Dec 5th) I am posting a page of reflections that she wrote in February 2002, about a month after the first discovery of her cancer and the day we saw the oncologist to set up the treatment schedule.  It’s a terse but typical display of her buoyant spirit and the leitmotif of her attitude throughout her ordeal of treatment-remission-recurrence that went on for four years.  Those who knew her will hear her happy voice.

Feb 14, 2002 Valentine’s Day

Today we went to the oncologist.  It was a good visit.  We learned lots and know what to expect.  Don’t sweat the small stuff — know when to call the Doc.  I’ll do more tests to do the staging on T&W next week ; then probably start the chemo the following Monday.

I feel so good.  I feel strong, energized — very positive.  Driving back to work I thought:  there have been times in my life when I haven’t really cared whether I lived or died — I was never suicidal — just dull, non-committal, unenthusiatic.  But I don’t feel that now.  I love life; all it is — such a precious gift.  And I feel filled with joy.  How is this?  Is it a strange reaction?  Am I in denial?  I don’t know.  It doesn’t really matter.  I am glad to be alive.  I feel that I am embracing this cancer.  My image is that I’m going to love it ’til it goes away!  Linda said I always knew that Darth Vader was good!

I was also struck, again, at how deadening the malls are — people schlepp around without energy — without doing anything — without love of life.  It’s so boring!  I went to the mall to get my hair cut (better to lose short hair than long hair) but then I decided not to waste $15 for a hair cut when I’m going to be bald in a few weeks.

____________________________________________________________

I just found the following which are are some of Mary’s reflections from late 2004 and 2005.  These are from her last year.  The final recurrence of the cancer was confirmed on December 7th 2004 so the first installment was entered a week after the bad news.

She had already been through a first chemo treatment in 2002, and the lymphoma returned in the spring of 2003.  She went through stem cell transplant and high doses of chemotherapy in UVA at Charlottesville that summer.  The cancer went into remission for a full year … there were enzyme signals in September 2004 that all was not well.  Two CT scans, the last one in late November, confirmed its return.  They told us on  Dec 7th that she would have a year to live … and she died on the 5th of December the following year.

December 14, 2004

Here are a few thoughts. Somehow, I am thinking very strange things, and think I better write some of it down. Maybe it will make sense later. I have cancer. It has come back, and everyone is devastated. But I am not. Somehow I feel quite at peace, almost relieved. I feel sad for myself when I think of Tony, and that I won’t be here to work with him and console him when I die, and I worry that it will be very hard for him.But these are selfish worries in a way, because I want to be here with him, to be the one to help him through what I know will be really hard.But for myself, if I don’t think of Tony, then I am relieved.Such a sense of freedom – no more responsibility. When friends are sad, I understand, but can’t enter into the whole thing of fighting the cancer and finding another way out, or of prolonging the “battle”.It just feels like this is my place in nature. I look outside, and we are always surrounded by death and rebirth, and living and being sick, and being well, and doing our thing for awhile, and then passing on.Passing on. What a good image.I fully trust this passage, even though I don’t have a clue where or how.But it all works together, and I’m a part of it!What a gift this life has been, and now, a gift this death will be.

But we live until we die. We’re alive til we’re dead.Its really no different for anyone. We all only are here for awhile. Its just the knowledge that one’s death is more imminent.Consciousness is what gives us such anguish, I guess, as well as such glorious moments.I am almost excited about this new thing, death. I think of the trust fall, and leaping out of a tree, only to be caught up by the harness supporting me.I trust this universe.I don’t understand any of it.I wonder, and I hope that somehow my pressence here has been for good, that somehow I have been a part of contributing good energy to the universe.

Does that really happen?Do our efforts matter in any way?On this one, I really have to trust, because I don’t see anything.I don’t see the world a better place, and I don’t even know if it will continue, or if the human race will destroy itself and something else take over.I guess it doesn’t really matter, ultimately.I just hope I have done my part, as small as it is, and whatever it is.

I feel so full of gratitude for having lived, for living now, and for being subsumed into the whole.

  December 19, 2004

   I am still feeling quite good. No symptoms, only thoughts.  Amazing how powerful the mind is. Just the knowledge of this cancer, and even though I feel fine, I am more quiet, and pensive, and want to just sit and think – or not think, just sit.  Then I remind myself that now I am living, and there are some things to be done.  But I can’t get excited about any of them, really.  I do want to be somewhat responsible!  A letter here, clean out a closet there.  Be attentive to life as it is now, here, this moment. 

   I am trying to decide about what treatment, if any, to do.  I hear several folks saying to do the more aggressive treatment- there have been some good results.  In my gut, I really don’t want to do anything. I want my body to find its way, to go at its own pace.  We have done every kind of intervention up til now. I have given myself over to modern science, and even done the stem cell transplant.  I think now it is time to let it be.  I say these words, and try to realize what it might mean.  My time here might be quite short, then, or not.  There is really no way of knowing.  The idea of buying time, would really be for Tony, and maybe for some practical things. But is that necessary?  The only other doubt I have is if not doing anything, is “giving up”.  But I don’t feel like I am giving up – I don’t feel like I am in a battle or a fight that is to be won or lost. I just am. I’m me. I’m here. It is good. And what is to come will be good, too.  I don’t have much desire . just want an enormous group hug with all the people I know and love!  It is sad to not be able to “fix things” for those who have it really hard. I can only hold them in the light. All this wonderful world – in the light.

 Christmas Eve. 

Tony has been very down, and is quite angry at the situation, and not reconciled.  He wants to be a postive force for me, but it is hard for him.  And I am just now realizing how much I have left him alone in all of this.  I am not dead yet.  I am not (or don’t have to be) unavailable to him!  And yet I have been unavailable, emotionally.  In the sense that I feel so good; that I have no worries; that I am at peace with my situation, and quite caught up in the joy of each day, now.  I feel so good.  But I want to continue to be present to Tony now, while I can.  Why should all the burden of what to do with the farm and the house, and where we could live – why should that all be on his shoulders?  Now is the time to begin seeing where we could better live, know­ing that I won’t be around forever.  The best consolation I can give to him is that he still might die before I do!  What a thing! But of course it is true. The point is, that we must live now, each day.  Now we have the knowledge that our present home is not sustainable without both of us.  So, now is when we should begin looking at alternatives.  We may both make that decision toge­ther, we  may both decide that another place is really better for us.  We may both go and get started somewhere else.  I may yet be around for some time, who knows?  I can’t feel the hurt that Tony does right now.  I am almost excited about dying. Perhaps it is the inevitability of it, and so the freedom that it gives, to do whatever I want now.  How great if that could always be our reality, but of course we have to live, and so work, and earn money, and be a part of society, and,…  So news of looming death is a relief, and a gift for the one dying.  But for those left behind, it is a terrible thing! To be left alone.  If Tony were the one with cancer, I would be very depressed, and scared and anxious – even desperate as to what to do: how to support him, and be present to him, but then, how to go on living without him.  Yes, I have many friends and community to help me along, and he does not, so the burden is many times greater.  All the more reason to use the time given to me now, to try to be more supportive, and to begin looking for how and where we might better live out the next phase of our lives together; where Tony might be able to better go on without me.

 I want to back up some, and remember a dream that I had several days ago.  The most striking thing was how I was sobbing and sobbing in it, and was comforted by a black woman, who I associated with nature, and mother earth, and wisdom.  She said to me “you want to understand – I’ll help you”.  Earlier, another woman had rejected me (the imagery was that I had my period, and couldn’t find any napkins or rags, and was dirty, and she said I was smelly, and no one would be my friend).  The imagery was all mixed up.  But most I was glad to be crying, because it was an emotion that I thought I must have, but I simply haven’t felt it in my waking moments.  So, I was glad it was there, and I could feel.

  Christmas, 2004

 We were invited over to Mike and Sharon’s for supper.  It was quite delightful, especially being with the kids!  They are great, and Mike and Sharon are each very good with them.  I hope things work out for their little community. I am glad they have worked so hard to save their marriage and their family.

  Today I listened to a meditation by Bernie Segal.  The image that came to my mind was thinking of all the common people, the insignificant folks, and how easily we can get caught up with what’s happening at the moment, and get carried away with “that’s just how things are…”  But then, every now and then, a person raises up their head and does what is really right.  A person begins to think, and decide for themselves, and follow what their heart says.  And that is what makes the world work.  And then I took it to a cellular level, and thought how my cells could easily just be going along, and sort of get fooled by an intruder, and not realize how important it is to stand up.  But now we are all waking up, and each little cell is standing up to do its job, and say “no, you can’t come in here,” or simply recognizing how important the job of each one is, and standing up to do it, to do what is right.  I thought of the young soldiers who were taking two girls from the camps, and were taking them to the reten.  I was following them, struggling to keep up with the fast pace they set.  But finally one soldier stopped and suggested to the other that they should let the girls go, that they could make up an excuse, that they didn’t really want or need to take these girls in.  That soldier listened to his humanity and saved those girls’ lives.  That is what happens when we listen to our own hearts, and don’t allow ourselves to be carried away by the authority of the moment.  That is how each cell in my body will help us all to live.  We are all so insignificant, and yet each one so important.  That is our hope!

 SPRING 2009

  i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
 great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing

breathing any — lifted from the no
of all nothing — human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
now the ears of my ears awake and
 now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
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11 comments on “+ MARY’S PAGE

  1. vera says:

    mary was an incredible woman and a tribute to the species!! i only now found your blog with “mary’s page” and i am hungry for the next entry. please keep ’em coming. she restores my faith in humanity! what a lucky guy you were, tony, to be married to such a smart woman!

  2. tonyequale says:

    FEBRUARY 14, 2009 … ANOTHER VALENTINE’S DAY

    Mary, hi! It’s me, Tony,

    Valentine’s Day again. It’s a full seven years since that day you started your “cancer notes” way back in 2002. Hard to believe, right?. I’ll spend the day with you, today, like I usually do on Sundays, even though it’s only Saturday. It’s a special Saturday, Valentine’s Day.

    The days I spend with you are special for me. I do the same things I do everyday, but I do everything with an awareness of your presence inside me. You know, after 29 years of marriage, a grafting took place … and you became part of me. I know you like the back of my hand. So I just let that part of me that really is you, take over. It’s not that hard, and it’s a really nice way to have you with me again, and for a whole day.

    That shocks everyone, of course, even me. I do the dishes today like always, but it’s no longer the great effort it is on all other days. It’s kind of fun. I clean the bathroom, I do all the minor chores around the house quietly, without rushing, not thinking about the other things I’d “rather” be doing. I work slowly, deliberately, focused only on what I’m doing, nothing else. Since this is what I’m doing with you, I just love to do it. It’s effort-less. I love these days. Too bad they only come once a week.

    Well, to be sure, on these days I am especially good to people, like you were. I treat them with enthusiam for who they are and show great interest in their lives, their wor-ries, their families. I let them know in a thousand little ways how much I esteem and re-spect them … and that I’m never disappoinbted in them. I never let them think they failed me in any way. I’m ready to help them with whatever they need … even before they ask me. I’m sure they wonder what came over me. I even apologize to my old friends for those sacrcastic comments I’m always making. They take it with a grain of salt, I suspect, because they know I’ve had this “conversion” before and I’m back at my old ways in short order. But, what me worry? I enjoy it while it lasts, and I bet they do too.

    And the thing I like most about it is that it’s all so effortless. I don’t have to force my-self to do any of it (for a change).

    On these special days when I let that part of me that became you take over, I’m so joyful, so centered, so happy inside, so peaceful and clear-minded in what I see and say, that I’m even super-patient with myself. Even when I “blow it” and sometimes I blow it real bad, I find I’m ready and willing to forgive myself, I see that I was doing the best I could and that my intentions were good. Where does that come from? I’m never like that, otherwise. On “normal” days I beat up on myself for every failure … and there are a lot of them … and I tell myself: “I’m not putting up with this!” But on these special days I’m relaxed. I’m still making mistakes, but I just let them happen and move right along. No scolding, no scowling, no recriminations, no punishment. Just like you. I love myself on days like this … I never treat myself so well.

    Well, Mary, I’m looking forward to spending time with you today, even though it’s only Saturday. Maybe we can do it again on Sunday, too, whaddya say?

    Tony

  3. tonyequale says:

    POETRY BY ANNA KAMIENSKA

    Those Who Carry

    Those who carry pianos
    to the tenth floor wardrobes and coffins
    an old man with a bundle of wood limps beyond the horizon
    a woman with a hump of nettles
    a madwoman pushing a pram
    full of vodka bottles
    they will all be lifted
    like a gull’s feather like a dry leaf
    like an eggshell a scrap of newspaper

    Blessed are those who carry
    for they shall be lifted.

    A Prayer That Will Be Answered

    Lord let me suffer much
    and then die

    Let me walk through silence
    and leave nothing behind not even fear

    Make the world continue
    let the ocean kiss the sand just as before

    Let the grass stay green
    so that the frogs can hide in it

    so that someone can bury his face in it
    and sob out his love

    Make the day rise brightly
    as if there were no more pain

    And let my poem stand clear as a windowpane
    bumped by a bumblebee’s head

    . . .

    Don’t worry there’ll still be a lot of suffering
    For now you have the right to cling to the sleeve
    of someone’s blunt friendship
    To be happy is a duty which you neglect
    A careless user of time
    you send days like geese to the meadow
    Don’t worry you’ll die many times
    until you learn at the very end to love life.

  4. vera says:

    came across an old article from the nytimes magazine section dated 4/1/07 but it was one that i had saved because i liked what the author, douglas hofstadter, scientist, had to say about how our souls live on after us. he also lost his wife tragically too early. he says:
    “…you can imagine a soul as being a detailed, elaborate pattern that exists very clearly in one brain. when a person dies, the original is no longer around. but there are other versions of it in other people’s brains. it’s a less detailec copy, it’s coarse-grained.
    like him, i don’t believe that our lives end when we die. there’s memory but more important is the fact that mary and tony became “so intimately engaged that her essence was imported into his brain.” does that make sense?

    i don’t think that it makes her dying any easier but i do hope that when you wake up tomorrow and greet the dawn you’ll feel mary’s presence next to you.

    thought that your last insert from mary’s notes was incredible–another testament to a truly incredible human being who wasn’t at all afraid of what would come next.
    v

  5. Dorothy says:

    Hello Mary….Somewhere in the core of my being I feel and think you are here/there. Thanks for leaving not only the diary snippets of yourself, but yourself in Tony. Your love in Tony.
    Some of the wild birds that nest, breed and raise there young here in the North, spend winters in VA., Your land. You may have enjoyed the same bird song and quick rush of feathered plumage in the winter that made its way to my sequestered haven in the spring. So maybe some of yourself did visit me. I wish I could have met you. But then again I guess I have in Tony.

  6. pete says:

    Mary, we at Tabor knew you way back when you lived on Lamont St. N.W.in that wonderful community that was the appendage if not the soul of Interaction. We so delighted in the struggle songs you sang with LUCHA in the mid- 70s. Most of all we delighted in your lilting laughter that brightened our lives in your many visits at 1809. It might have been there that you met Tony, or at least where he got the affirmation from Betty that you were the one he was looking for as you were engaged in converse with others in the next room.
    We are delighted again to have Tony share the reflections that you left on papers scattered behind, treasures gathered that inspire us to live life fully and to face death like a friend and a great adventure. We are ever grateful for your friendship.

  7. mike says:

    It helps me to “hear” Mary say: “I trust this universe.”

    Michael

  8. Kitty says:

    Hola querida Mary y querido Tony,
    Today, thanks to Mary Bundy, I am beginning to journey through your amazing notes during those years that you walked so valiently, so faithfully with your cancer.
    Am glad I have these days here at Cedars of Peace in your beloved Nerinx to walk and talk with you both and to re-member who you have been and continue to be for those so fortunate to be your friends.
    Today I am focusing on your words, Mary, “we live until we die”…am in my own time of grieving over the “passing on” of my sister Pat in late February. Really didn’t know I had so many tears stored up within me. I think that some of these relate to what is happening for people today in Nicaragua.
    Today is also the 22nd anniversary of the death of Ben Linder and I am connecting in spirit with Elisabeth and Miriam and John and also remembering your trip to DC, Tony and Mary, to testify after Ben’s assassination.
    As I also grapple with “what really matters,” I am trying to trust that each one of us does indeed, have “good energy to contribute to the universe,” (ie. only Kitty can put in “kitty energy”)…and most often, none of us ever really sees “effects.” You led the way in this, Mary, for all of us and today, Ben’s Day, I thank you!
    Glad to know, too, that we three share this wonderful quality of “clutter-bug-ness” that continually offers up new and wonderful surprises, for ourselves and for others.
    thanks again, Tony, for sharing Mary in this wonderful way.
    con paz, Kitty

  9. Dear Tony,
    Wasn’t sure I’d found the right Tony, but this page confirms it! I have some Lucha music I’d like to send you. are you still at the farm? Please drop me a line and I can give you the details.

    con paz,
    Jeanne Mackey

  10. Capillo says:

    Tony,
    I have wandered on the your blog, looking to think about energy and matter, quantum vacuum and God, vortices of electromagnetism and neoatheism, and I found Mary’s page…….
    The agnostic this, ex that, divorced something else
    sits in a pool of tears
    in the unnamed now
    awestruck by the energy between you and your Mary.
    I wish for you the peace and joy of that buoyancy.
    John

  11. Sal Umana says:

    Tony, Thanks for sharing Mary with us. I know she would love this. Sal Umana

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