Wednesday, June 10, 2015

...life, death, flowers, and cheese...



Don't knock on Death's door.

Instead, ring the bell and run. 
Death hates that...


terminal (adj.)
mid-15c., "relating to or marking boundaries," from Latin terminalis "pertaining to a boundary or end, final," from terminus "end, boundary line". Meaning "fatal" (terminal illness) is first recorded 1891. Sense of "situated at the extreme end" (of something) is from 1805. Slang meaning "extreme" first recorded 1983.

The word has been haunting me the last few days. The short story is that a childhood friend, one I have known as far back as I can recall from Girl Scouts and Marching Band, has been fighting breast cancer. She recently posted that the cancer has returned and that it’s pretty much everywhere.  She’s announced that based on the diagnosis (she’s an RN), it’s now considered “terminal.” I don’t get to write this paragraph without pausing to weep. But I’m a big ol’ crybaby and tear up even during some commercials. We all die. Many of us have buried more than our fair share of friends and loved ones. What is a fair share? I don’t know but I’m sure there’s a country song somewhere that talks about it. I’m not intentionally being light but I’m thinking about this woman, a young 40s with SO MANY FRIENDS because she walks in and lights up the place. Why can’t mean crotchety people get cancer? Yeah, I guess they probably do too. But still, cancer sucks!

Watching the hibiscus grow
The beginning of my summer started with other types of terminals… those connected to airports to meet a new friend and then to hear about her terminal degree (duh, that’s you Professor Z!). But now terminal has taken on an ominous tone.

It has also become a reminder that you never know how long you have to get together with friends, visit that one cemetery you’ve been meaning to trek out to, go dancing with your fella, eat at that new restaurant, bring home a bouquet of flowers for the coffee table just because. Even this friend was given the diagnosis and then went out and married her boyfriend… just like that.  She has never been dreary about the diagnosis. She posted silly t-shirts about cancer including one of my favorites: “Yes, these are fake! The real ones tried to kill me!”

The best thing any of us can do is to live… not exist but LIVE.
Last night we had a friend over for dinner. I went to our local cheese and wine store and bought the good stuff so I could pull out my coffin cheese board. Why don’t we do this for ourselves more often? We should.

Today I reached out to one of my new friends I’ve made in this blogosphere.  I just want to be around people I really, really like right now. So today we’re meeting for lunch and (a big heartwarming sigh) she suggested that we stop by a local cemetery so she can check on a rose. I adore Connie!

As I’m weeping I know that this is part of our cultural fear of death. I can’t help but think about Anthropologist Kelli Swazey’s TEDMED talk , “Life that doesn’t end with death.”  It’s 13 minutes but it’s completely worth watching.

10 comments:

  1. Cancer is so limited....
    It cannot cripple love.
    It cannot shatter hope.
    It cannot corrode faith.
    It cannot eat away peace.
    It cannot destroy confidence.
    It cannot kill friendship.
    It cannot shut out memories.
    It cannot silence courage.
    It cannot reduce eternal life.
    It cannot quench the Spirit.
    --author unknown

    Cancer is nonetheless my bitter enemy. It took from me the most remarkable man I ever met, my beloved oldest brother Joe. I am so sorry for your friend's diagnosis. Though we will all transition in time, it is excruciating to lose our loved ones too young.

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  2. THIS. POST. IS. AWESOME. I have been learning this truth for the past couple of years, and it's a wonderful one to embrace! I am allowing myself to do more things "just because I want to" rather than wait for the 'appropriate' time to do them. When IS that, exactly?? It's RIGHT NOW!!! Because we usually don't know how long we really have, even those with limited expectancy.

    When one of my dearest friends received a diagnosis of 3-6 months without chemo (her choice), we had an hour long heart-to-heart talk that included the most important thing of all: what she would wear to her funeral. When she mentioned that she really would like to wear her favorite pink-and-gold bellydance costume, I said DO IT! So she did, and she looked fantastic! I half expected her to jump out of the casket and start dancing, just to surprise us.

    I celebrate your friend's life and her decision not to let cancer or a diagnosis of 'terminal' destroy what is left of her life on this earth. There may or may not be anything going on after this, although I believe there probably is. But there's no reason to waste the time and opportunities we have here just because we can see the end of this life approaching.

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    1. Thanks Lucretia...I love that your friend wore her bellydancing costume. That makes me smile.

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  3. As we approach the 2 year mark of my Mom's passing, all I can say is that I understand and I'm here for you. You need to talk at 3:00 in the morning, we'll talk. Ok?

    I know we've only "known" each other for a short time, but I can confidently say that I adore you, my friend. I love you. I'm here for you.

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    1. Thank you:)

      And the feeling is mutual!

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  4. ... and I adore you , too! Love at first sight, you know, and I enjoy your company very, VERY much. Today was just what the Dr. ordered. How great it was to find that that rose at the cemetery is healthy and thriving.

    I love your opening quote!

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    1. :D

      "How great it was to find that that rose at the cemetery is healthy and thriving."... how poignant.

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  5. I am sorry about your friend. I try to remember to live life! Even if my definition mostly includes just sitting round reading as many books as I can before I die!

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  6. I'm so sorry. I lost my best friend to cancer 7 years ago, she was 36 years old. It was shocking and painful and I remember looking at the world and wondering how it just kept turning, how everyone just kept going about their business. But it does get better, time does heal the wound, at least partially. My best advice is to make the very most of the time you have left together.

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