Sometimes words fail you. Sometimes friends fail you. What can you do? You have to keep going. Four days ago I lost a friend and neighbor to breast cancer that had metastasized. She was only 42. I think. It seems like such a short time ago we were celebrating her fortieth, and not much longer than that, we celebrated a year of her being cancer free.
But the cancer came back, an uninvited guest, and it wouldn't leave. She didn't want her friends to know. She didn't want to be known as "the cancer girl." I found out how bad things were five days before her death. She had come home to die with family and hospice care there by her side. Oxygen and pain killers made it somewhat bearable. If that is even conceivable.
I was initially beyond upset when I heard, but I understood her need for privacy. We don't get to choose the circumstances of our birth, but in some ways, if we are lucky, we can choose the way we die. "A Deathing," is what my "soul mother," Jeanne, called it. I wasn't there when my mom died from cancer in January of 1986. Jeanne, also an artist, became like a second mother to me. She, too died from cancer- ovarian cancer that had metastasized to her brain. Jeanne chose the way she wanted to go. I got to say goodbye to her on the phone, since she lived on the Oregon coast and I lived in Seattle, and she didn't want me to drive there. I never got to say goodbye to my mother.
I did get to say goodbye to my friend. I wrote her a letter. An uplifting letter. A letter that told her how beautiful and fun she is. A letter that told her that her parties were always a bright spot in our neighborhood. I told her how her love of certain cocktails inspired me to make my own version of Sloe Gin with wild Damson plums that grew down the road... And I gave her a bottle of that "Plummi Gin" in the hopes that she would drink it with her family.
I wish I could say that it cured her. It didn't. I heard that my letter was loved and appreciated and her father told me he couldn't wait to try the gin. I said what I wanted to say to my friend in that letter. I told her that she would always be in our hearts. I haven't written a word since then. That was just over a week ago. I've wanted to write. I've wanted to post. I just have not been able to do it.
What I have done is make the arrangements to move my 79 year old dad to live with us. The logistics are quite complicated, and he can't do any of the packing or organizing. He is upside-down in his mortgage. He is depressed and alone and doesn't take care of himself or the house. I can't let him live like that, and I certainly can't let him die like that. Sometimes it is time for action. The words will come later.
There will be a brief hiatus from posts here while I make this all happen.
I won't forget my journal or my camera, though. I hope I have some good stories upon my return.
Happy writing and creating...