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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.
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.
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!
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
how should tasting touching hearing seeing