Saturday, March 23, 2013

Transition Phase

March marks the one year anniversary of the completion of my radiation treatments.  Then, as now, I was thrilled to put one step behind me while at the same time apprehensive about what would come next.  It's not about cancer this time, though, that situation has been stable for some time.  The tumor is still there, and that's always worrisome, but for now it seems to be willing to behave, which is to say, it does nothing.  

This time around the relief is from finally being finished with the arduous preparations to sell our house, which included furniture upheaval and the inconvenience of having more than half our belongings relocated to a storage unit.  But now that all the rush and effort of staging is done, there is nothing left to do but worry.  Worry over how quickly the deadline to contract this house for sale is looming, and how devastating it will be to lose the perfectly situated house we want to buy over the delay of this one not selling quickly enough.

Hopefully, we will find a buyer in time, so that the next transition we face is the welcome one of settling into our new home.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today."

Ever since I first read Richard Adams' book Watership Down, that phrase has struck me as one of the best utterances of grief I've ever come across.  In the made-up language and culture of Adams' rabbits, it means essentially that one's grief-stricken heart becomes one's own enemy (of the thousands of enemies who hunt rabbits) when one experiences the death of a friend.

Today I lost a friend I never really met.  Our acquaintance began when my disability began, when suddenly we had something in common.  Until then he'd been a friend of my husband, a friend who happened to have ALS, but ever after that he was someone who understood what I'd  been through and could laugh and complain about the same handicap world problems that I laughed and complained about.  He knew, for example, the intimate struggle of relying on caregivers for the most private and personal of functions.  Through the magic of the internet we could converse on these delicate subjects as if we were in the same room, even though we never were.

My friend was a beacon of strength and dignity and honesty in a world that wants to cover up weakness and silence the uncomfortably awkward realities of anger and regret.  I was afraid of death even though I knew I had good chances of living a long life with this cancer, and I found it difficult to express the level of anger and injustice I felt about it all.  But in my friend I found someone who faced certain death, yet vented his emotions fearlessly, painted their raw colors on Facebook for all who knew him to see, and still continued to have a life in which he did rather ordinary things like watch movies and long for romance.  He showed that life with catastrophic medical problems is still life, and can be managed one day at a time.  And for me, there was another message in his brutally honest status updates.  For me, his rage about a life with many regrets carried with it a silent plea to all of us to live our own lives more vividly.  To take chances, experience new and amazing things as much as possible, and above all else to never lose the opportunity to have love.  Take no day and no person for granted.

As his disease progressed, my friend knew great suffering.  But the opportunity to hear from him, albeit online, no matter whether he'd had a good day or a bad one, brought great joy to all who loved him.  He lamented that he was useless and a burden to others at the end, but I hope that now his unfettered spirit can feel the love that we all have for him, and shine all the more brightly for finally realizing that he wasn't a burden to us at all, but a gift.