Wow! Another five months has passed since I last wrote. The frequency of my writing has slowed to a near-stall. It isn’t really that I don’t have words, but more that I don’t have time. I keep a spiral-bound notebook next to my desk at home and I jot stuff down in it on a regular basis- ideas, metaphors, experiences. But I seldom find time to expand on them through writing, and when I take the time (every several months, or so) it seems like so much time has passed that it’s difficult to connect the dots in any meaningful way.
A lot has happened in the past five months. I’m sure for all of us this is true. Yet day-to-day, things pretty much stay the same. It’s good for all of us to rise above the tediousness and contemplate the bigger perspective, I think. But it’s equally beneficial to let go of the bigger picture that the past or future holds so that we can put all of ourselves into the day we have today. And even more importantly, the day we have in front of us versus the very moment we have now. Living in the moment can be very difficult for us westerners. And even for those of us who are Christians it is so engrained in us to look to the future, our eternal future. Those in the east, and particularly the Zen Buddhists, have worked hard on mastering the ability to live only in the moment. Zen itself is equal to the practice of being fully present in the moment. In April Al and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary and were able to take a motorcycle ride to the coast. I distinctly remember writing about our 5th anniversary, the motorcycle ride, renewing our vows in Three Rivers, Al wanting to buy me an anniversary ring, and me telling him to wait until our 10th anniversary. (I really wasn’t sure I was going to live and didn’t want him investing a large amount of money in a ring when my death would leave him financially devastated as it was). I cried a lot that trip. Motorcycle riding has always been a Zen experience for me. We don’t get the opportunity to do it often for a variety of reasons, but when we do I always feel “healed” when we return home. I almost always cry when we go on rides. Besides the wind irritating my eyes, motorcycle riding allows me an opportunity to work through stuff. It used to be mostly about just letting go, leaving things like work and bills behind. But since cancer it has also mixed death into the equation. Motorcycle riding is dangerous. I don’t sit on the back of the bike in fear of dying, but the reality that I could die, that we are out on the open road, a narrow, windy road, and are very vulnerable to all sorts of random variables that could cause us to go down, is much heavier than it ever was before cancer. My death-awareness, just like my life-awareness is keener during these Zen-moments. I fully trust my husband, which is why I don’t really have a need to learn to command my own motorcycle. That takes too much focused concentration. If I didn’t trust him I probably would learn to steer my own handlebars. But I like that I can sit back and not be so panicked about the road ahead that it consumes my total focus. The potential for death pierces my awareness just enough that I work through it as I stare down at the yellow line whizzing by at 70 miles an hour. I work through a lot of stuff on a grander and deeper scale than I ever could grasp before cancer. What used to be last week’s reports I didn’t get typed, this week’s car registration due, and my general dissatisfaction with my adult life, is now the past five years of cancer treatment trauma and the eventuality of my own death. And while I do work on that stuff while I’m not in the #2 man-up seat, the smell of orange blossoms and the sun on my neck brings it all into the moment. It really is like therapy.
Tattooing shares a similar experience for me. It is a form of therapy too. While it is Zen-like (mostly because of the pain and endorphins), it really has turned out to be more about creative expression than consciously working through trauma. There is that element to the experience. But it’s really more of a difference between manually moving big boulders and sifting through fine sand. Riding puts those boulders in focus, and moving them is difficult and painful. Tattooing sifts through the various mechanisms and allows me to express those metaphorically on my skin. It isn’t just about the aesthetic beauty of the art. In fact, for me that has very little to do with it. It’s more about aligning the outside of my body with the inside of my psyche. So in that I am working through stuff. But when I’m under the tattoo needle I am not processing in the same way I am when I am riding. The processing is before and after, and seldom during. Nevertheless, tattooing is very spiritual for me and holds the power of healing.
Within this past five months Al and I attended a local tattoo convention that was put on by my friends at the Healing Arts Foundation. It was their first convention and turned out to be a comfortable environment of artists and clients who were rallied around the cause of breast cancer. I really had a good time. But of course, being a tattooed breast cancer survivor put me in somewhat of a limelight. I was pressured into entering the “best breast cancer tattoo” contest, which I won (well, I was the only entrant who showed up). But along with that comes the obvious expectation that you show your tattoo. Judges can’t judge a tattoo they can’t see. So that entailed me lifting my shirt, pulling down my pants, yet again in a public venue. I know that the intention of everyone there was to be supportive. I felt safe in that aspect. I felt very honored and respected for my decision to tattoo in lieu of breast reconstruction. But this goes back to what I wrote about in the last letter- it’s like being a soldier on leave from the war theatre and being surrounded by people who have not been where you’ve been, seen what you’ve seen, and yet they are patting you on the back for all that you’ve done. While I felt supported, I also felt very isolated. In seeking connection I imagine that’s how Aron Ralston felt after he survived the harrowing experience of having to amputate his own arm, only to find himself sharing about the life-altering experience in front of a group of strangers who really just wanted to see and know about his prosthetic arm/hand. People are having metal balls inserted under their skin for some vague purpose of “body modification” and I am living with this hard plastic port catheter (for chemo) permanently imbedded under my skin and sutured to my jugular vein. My tattoo is so much more than a functional alternative choice. It’s more than covering up my scars with some beautiful art. If I wanted to just cover up scars I would have done that with something much more exquisite, something feminine, and horizontal. But as it is, only about half of my scars are covered and my tattoo wraps around my neck dropping all the way to the bottom of my torso. Because it engulfs my entire torso it takes up far more skin than is really necessary for a singular purpose of covering scars. So, it isn’t about art and it isn’t about function. It’s about expression. And being that it’s my inside processes with cancer expressing themselves metaphorically with images on my skin, it’s deeply personal. When I have to lift my shirt and drop my pants I feel naked and extremely violated. Of course there’s the element of nudity, of being embarrassed about my body. That plays a large part. I know if I was a healthy weight I would be much more comfortable being naked. But there’s also an element of emotional vulnerability that is stronger because of the tattoo. People are looking at the art, artists are looking at the technical details, and everyone is applauding the choice. But behind all of that is really me. My tiger, my monkeys, my stingrays, my seahorses, my butterflies, and my caterpillar eating the leaf, my crab, my octopus, my snail, and most importantly the bleeding hands of Jesus. So all of those images are an expression of who I am because of cancer, and sharing that with strangers who really didn’t understand that’s what it’s all about was very emotional. It kind of felt icky and forced into focus some thoughts and feelings that I hadn’t expected to have to work through in going to a tattoo convention.
Actually, that entire convention weekend turned out to be a self-changing experience. A friend of ours who is a tattoo artist came to support me, to do some tattooing, and to get some exposure. There was also a suspension team there. Our friend had always had a desire to try suspension, but never had the opportunity. So now it presented itself and he wanted to try it. (For those of you who haven’t seen this on Discovery Channel, modern-day suspension is a re-enactment of ritualistic practices when people place large hooks through the skin, usually in their back, and suspend from ropes attached to the hooks). When our friend shared that he wanted to try this we brought back our entire family to support him while he experienced it. As I watched them pierce through his skin with large hooks and contemplated that primal fear he may have been facing as he imagined the possibility of the hooks ripping through his flesh, I was deeply moved. I could connect to the experience of pushing past fears, of mastering the flesh to summit the mountain, and even of having a barrage of onlookers intently watching with their own expectations of how it should all play out. It touched me that I felt a connection with my friend on a deeper level than I had ever before. And considering the context, I was honored by that. But I was disturbed, and even dumbfounded as to why a human being would go to that length to simulate an experience that I was practically living daily- and an unpleasant one at that. “Why intentionally create a scenario where you have to work past fear and pain when these types of scenarios are going to come at you through a normal life process anyway”, I asked? He provided me with a variety of generic answers, none of them too personal. So, like I always do when something I don’t fully understand has a profound emotional effect on me, I try to learn as much as I can about it. I did a lot of internet research on this form of ritual, and specifically the Sun Dance. The Sun Dance is a North American plains Indians, or specifically a Sioux ritual. It has different purposes and components, but as it relates to suspension it involves piercing the chest with bone and connecting the protruding ends of the bone with rope to a tree-pole in the center of a circle. One American woman who’s son was dismembered in the Iraq war blogged about her experience attending a Sun Dance healing ceremony. Her re-telling of the experience is quite moving. She writes that “during the dance, the two men were tethered to the pole and both danced with vigor. I felt them connected to the suffering of Jason and all those who suffer from war, especially the veterans who were dancing”. So it seems that of the many purposes for the Sun Dance, connection, intercession, is a major one.
In the Christian circle we tend to fuse intercession with prayer. When we intercede for someone we are praying for them. But the Sioux take this intercession even further than that by piercing their flesh, and tethering themselves to tree-poles. In reading about this ceremony and contemplating its purpose and meaning I thought about the Scripture: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). In my last writing I gave words to some of those feelings I was having about that, or the lack of it that I felt in the Christian community. Sitting on those words for the past five months I have reconsidered them several times. And I want to make it clear that I’m not ungrateful for all the wonderful and selfless things people have done to help me and my family as we’ve dealt with my cancer. People have gathered around us, some of them Christians, some not, and have gone to great lengths, which have had a significant positive impact on our lives. But these people have primarily been people who have done these things independent of any church affiliation. They haven’t been people I attend church with or people I routinely fellowshipped with. And so on one hand I praise God for meeting some of our needs through the warm and caring gestures of people in our lives, on the other I am still asking where are the people who would mourn with us? Where are the people who truly seek to understand- who will sit and cry with us, and travel down the road of fear along side us?
But even then I realize that the practice or experience of mourning is culture-bound. The Jewish culture, for example, expects that the Jew demonstrate significant outward signs of mourning. We read in the Bible how they would rip their clothing and throw dirt on themselves to signify their pain. In our culture, and in the Christian subculture, extreme outward expressions of grief are equated with indignity. Really, in the Christian community we are expected to even be rejoiceful when our Christian loved ones pass. We readily praise God for all that we perceive as good in our lives. But what happens to the pain and grief? Most of the time, at best, we get an “I’ll pray for you” and are expected to keep a stiff backbone as we carry the weight singly on our shoulders. “God won’t give you more than you can handle”, we are told. We can’t demonstrate fear or anxiety. No, only bravery and faith are rewarded. When we are brave, when we appear to be full of faith (even if we’re really not), we get lots of strokes for that- “you’re so inspirational”, “your faith is amazing”, “I don’t know how you do it”, and whatnot. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with people sharing that positively with other people who inspire them. But we seem to not really know how to handle people who express negative thoughts and feelings- people who are in pain, who are suffering, who are fearful. We grow fearful ourselves, and not being confidant of what to say, we refrain from saying anything at all. C.S. Lewis wrote about this very thing in The Problem With Pain. But being the one in the other shoes, it’s really hard to feel fear, anxiety, pain, loss, and have no place to really lay that out. We are left alone to work that out ourselves. And that is where my pointed question comes in- if suffering, if pain is the way of the Cross, the way God uses to refine us, then why are so many Christians so unwilling to embrace it? On one side of the coin this silence, this lack of spiritual and emotional support, has brought my little family, my husband and my children, much closer. (Justin bought me a book about the theology of suffering for Mother’s Day). On the other side it has been a dividing line that has separated us from people that we would prefer not to be so separate from. It’s been a long and painful process and it’s been a turbulent one for me. I’m still working on letting go of my expectations that others would tether-up beside me, and on accepting that apparently tethering-up was the task that was put before me and me alone. And so, my point is that whatever problem there may be is a problem that resides within me, or before me. It is my problem to work through. I write freely mostly because I have very few concrete places to express the pain, to test the process, to mirror myself. But I never intend my writings to offend or isolate others I care about. Challenge them? Maybe. But my writing is really for me. And my choice to share it is really like an invitation, I guess. It’s an invitation to connection, to contemplation and reflection. Whether our friend had a purely selfish motive in his decision to follow through with his suspension experience or not, I felt very connected with his experience. Even if he offered no prayers to God, I still felt as if he had pierced his flesh and tethered to the center pole for a greater purpose than his experience alone. I mean, the timing, the context, must have been guided by God.
But other things have fallen into place this past several months too. I occasionally am able to attend a monthly dinner with other women with a specific type of breast cancer (not IBC). The last dinner I attended was not long after the tattoo convention. So having that fresh on my mind, I was more (painfully) aware of myself. Self-awareness is a tricky thing! So, while at the convention I felt isolated because although I am tattooed, I am also living with breast cancer. And with the breast cancer circle although I have breast cancer, I have chosen tattooing instead of reconstruction. It’s odd to lift a shirt to expose a breastless chest to other tattoo-art minded people, just as it’s odd to be in a group of women showing their reconstructed breasts to one another when what I have to show is a tattoo. In both situations I felt very different and awkward. This was even clearer at the breast cancer gathering when the little sub-group of women at my table talked about how they handled their cancer diagnosis and treatment. They all concluded that they “just gave it all to God”. It really bothered me to be surrounded by other women who had been through the cancer thing too, but didn’t seem nearly as touched by their experience as I have been mine. It sure made my faithlessness, my self pity, my anger, seem so much more apparent to me than it usually is. And I chewed on that for a while. While I’m not really making any judgment about my sisters’ honesty, I can say that people seek different levels of understanding because we are all just different people. It’s nearly impossible for me to just shrug off heavy stuff, to hand it back over to God as if it weren’t for me to shoulder to begin with. I’ve always been very intense and cancer hasn’t changed that. I have a desperate need to find meaning in events in my life. That need for meaning, that need for purpose has been the very thing that God used to lead me to Him. So I am certain that He created me this way on purpose. And I’ve had to work the past several years on being secure in that, on being less defensive about my faith as people have said things like “just hand it over to God”, “God will answer our prayers if we ask Him”, or “don’t accept the cancer”. I’ve struggled with cancer. I’ve struggled with purpose. I have wrestled with God over it. But in that process I have also embraced cancer. I didn’t, I couldn’t, just “let go and let God”. I had to grab it and kiss it square in the mouth. Only then could I really allow it to transform me. As much as I have whined about what hard work it really has been, about how heavy the burden has been, I have also felt compelled to work through this refinement process, and not just turn my back on it by handing it all back to God in some grand forfeiture. I got cancer for a reason.
But even as I have gathered strength and assurance of my faith through this process I have continued to experience the ebb and flow of it. I hand it over, and then take it back. I still have more questions than answers. An acquaintance of mine, a sister I met through her blog on the internet, is dying from IBC. She is a few years older than me, but still young enough to have small children who depend on her. She has six children, actually. (You can read about her process on http://punkrockmommy.org/blog). Her youngest is just over a year old- Andrea was diagnosed with IBC when her youngest was really just an infant. Anyway, as I have regularly read Andrea’s words about her struggle, her faith, her acceptance, I have reviewed my own questions about pain and suffering, death and eternity. I have lost several women who are close to my heart because of Inflammatory Breast Cancer. And they all have been amazingly courageous, pillars of faith. I believe that when a person is dying from a terminal illness the process will usually bring him/her to a place of acceptance, of surrender. But it is a process. So, most of us don’t get diagnosed with terminal cancer and then go home and accept our fate. That’s especially true now that cancer treatment is what it is. Twenty years ago IBC was almost always fatal. Now it is a, “well, there’s a 50% chance you will survive” kind of deal. So it’s like the gun bang defining the beginning of the race. You run fast and hard and don’t look back. But no matter how hard or how fast, the ultimate outcome really is beyond control. In this cancer journey I have been on I have met or been told about so many different cancer survivors. Some have clung to faith and forgone any kind of treatment. Some have chosen to strictly adhere to homeopathic and dietary treatments. And most have gone the medical treatment route, with all its side effects and complications. But whatever is decided, the outcome is always what it is. So the seeming decision is really disguising the reality that we have very little, if any, control over our eventual death. The reality is that the person diagnosed with a terminal cancer has no more control than the person who’s life hangs in the balance because of critical injuries sustained from a sudden car accident. But the difference is in the opportunity to process. Car accident victims who are that critical usually never regain sufficient consciousness to process their own deaths, whereas cancer patients have weeks, sometimes months or years, to process. And so any terminal illness is both an opportunity and a burden. Therein lies the dilemma. There is such a fine line between holding on and letting go. And both are legitimate events in the process. The person who lets go, who stops treatment because he/she has chosen to grasp as much quality of life as possible before the eventuality of death seizes them, does so in faith and submission. This person has gracefully accepted death. I have known of many cancer patients who have welcomed hospice services during this part of their processes. It makes me extremely sad that Andrea is at this point. And yet I marvel at her faith, as I have at the faith of Terri Gray, Morgan Welch, and many others who have been taken through IBC. It is indeed a privilege to be offered the interior view of the terminal cancer experience (I urge you to read Andrea’s blog). It is an experience I would not have sought to understand as readily had I not been given cancer myself- (not because of fear, but more because of ignorance). But while it is a privilege, it is because of my own cancer experience that I have also grappled more with the process. I can intimately relate to Andreas’s decision to stop treatment and to Tina’s decision to continue working full-time right up until her death. Because on the flip side of faithfully submitting unto death is the willingness to continue to suffer unto Christ. Again, as I wrote in the last letter, I don’t want to over-dramatize it to a degree that it overshadows the heart of what I’m trying to share. I’m not really talking about martyrdom here. Martyrs die for their faith- they hold steadfast to their faith all the way to death, and are meeting death because of their faith. When we get cancer we don’t get to escape it just because we renounce our faith. There’s no ‘faith-option clause’ to the deal. Martyrs know they are going to or may die. No, cancer is not martyrdom. Cancer patients do not know they are going to die- well, at least not in the beginning. We have hope for survival. If we didn’t we wouldn’t do any forms of treatment at all. And there are some people who right from the get-go decide not to do any type of treatment. But most people, even with a terminal cancer diagnosis, make some effort to run the race- the motivation of course being to extend life as long as possible. And so, somewhere along in the race there is a process, an invisible track-marker we pass that either signals to us that we just might outrun him, so we need to run harder and faster, or that we are too far behind and are destined to be overtaken by him. In that case we trot along side as he escorts us to this invisible line, which then becomes our own finish line. But before we approach that line, seeing it quickly coming ahead, we volley back and forth, both judging the distance, our speed, and what decision we will make when we get close to it. It’s not an easy task and it’s certainly not an easy decision. And so it seems to me that whether one decides to continue running and accept the suffering that accompanies that, or submits to what amounts to their own finish line, or death, if the decision is made in faith then it will ultimately serve as a testimony of faith, regardless of the outcome. The absence of fear in the presence of death and the willingness to suffer without guarantee it will result in survival are both profound expressions of the same faith. But there will always be people who believe that my bi-focal perspective is that of a victim- that if I just refused to accept cancer entirely and clutched “positive thinking” I might somehow completely outlive it (and to their own end, any other disease for that matter). I really have no desire to have to make such extensive effort at denying the inevitable. Learning to accept and surrender is hard enough. And for me, as I gauge that invisible line up ahead, I am continuing on and am grasping all that life brings toward me, as with sadness I run past some dear sisters who are at the end of their finish lines.
Yes, a lot has gone by in the past five months since I last wrote. Since I’m at seven pages now in my Word document, I guess it’s about more than seven pages worth of stuff. Mother’s Day came and went. It was really different to get a box mailed from Hawaii from Justin (my book was in it, with a sweet inscription he wrote on the first page). It was also sobering to drive past the cemetery that Sunday and see so many people visiting the gravesides of their mothers. In April it was one year since I have been finished with “hard” chemo. I’ve had a couple of haircuts since then, but my hair is still really thin and sparse in the top/front. I’m having to grow it out longer than usual just to cover the bareness of it. My eyebrows are still really thin too, and although my eyelashes have grown back, they’ve never been as long and full as they were before chemotherapy. Oh well. In May I passed my five year mark since diagnosis. Five years with IBC is really a rare testimony. There aren’t as many of us as there are those who have not survived past five years. Also in May Amanda turned 16 years old. I know her birthday celebrations didn’t meet her expectations and she was very disappointed, but she’s working her first job and has been going non-stop. Another major May event was Jared turning 13 years old. It’s hard to believe my “baby”, my youngest child, is now a teenager. I am so glad that I am surviving to be here for them, but it doesn’t seem like too much longer when they will stop depending on me. Justin is already standing on his own. He turned 19 years old a couple of weeks ago. It was his first birthday that we weren’t able to celebrate with him. He still calls when he needs something, which I am grateful for because other than that we don’t hear much from him. In August he’s scheduled to come to California/NTC for his pre-Iraq training. He’s getting a lot of training now. But they really “play war” out in the desert for NTC, with real IEDs and mock injuries, emergency evacuations and all that. After NTC he gets a couple weeks off to visit and then will go back to Hawaii for deployment to Iraq in October. He’s going to be the top gunner in a HUMV somewhere in Baghdad. But we’re working on trying to get him re-assigned to a base closer to home, and if that works out, he won’t be deploying with his unit he’s assigned to now. If the military presence in Iraq continues for much longer he won’t avoid deployment there, but a transfer will put it off. Hawaii is a nice place to be if you’re on vacation, but to have to live there it’s not so great. It’s over five hours in a plane (with a $1000 ticket) over an ocean to get home. And it’s an island that only has so much to do. It’s not like he can jump in his car and drive home on the weekend. We haven’t seen him since he left for Hawaii in February.
Also within the past five months my brother, who just turned 28 years old in February, was diagnosed with an aggressive in situ colon cancer. He had the large, cancerous polyp removed, and then after consulting with an oncologist had a surgery to resection a significant segment of his bowel (7 inches). It turned out that he already had another polyp growing back in that section. But they didn’t find any additional cancer, so it seems that they were able to remove all of it when the original polyp was removed. It’s fairly rare that I would develop an aggressive and rare breast cancer at 30 years old and my brother would develop an aggressive colon cancer at 28 years old. My brother and I have different mothers so if there were any genetic link it would be through my father’s chromosomes. His dad did die of cancer but we aren’t sure what type. So that, along with some other unanswered questions, has sparked a genealogy interest that I plan to pursue. But for now, I’m far too busy! I still have weekly chemotherapy, which has just become a staple of my weekly schedule. That won’t change unless the cancer progresses, and then I’ll have to start the “hard” chemo again. I’m tired. My ejection fraction (cardiac output) has decreased significantly from when I started chemotherapy five years ago. I’m sure that has a large contribution to my constant fatigue. I think I need to see a cardiologist soon. I was going 2-3 times a week to the cancer center for an OT exercise program, but my co-pay is $30 and it added up quick. She agreed to negotiate the co-pay so I could continue to benefit from her program, but I guess I just felt overwhelmed being at the cancer center so much. I am trying to not let cancer absorb my life. But it really does. I still have neuropathy. But it has been much worse than it is. I still have lymphedema. That’s been much worse too. I still have fibromyalgia bouts and they can be so debilitating. But I work through that. And I made the really impulsive decision to take a summer anatomy/physiology class at the local junior college. I’m bored. It’s not that I’m not busy. But the things I am doing aren’t mentally stimulating. So I unknowingly overshot my limitations and am 2/3 of the way through this rigorous summer class. It’s actually a two-semester class, so I will have to take the second half just so all this ridiculous amount of studying I have had to do is not in vain. But it’s not been a very good choice for me because I am not eating good (getting up early to study and then running out the door to be at school by 8am means no breakfast), am not sleeping good (up too late and too early studying), and am totally out of my element (lots of memorization of foreign terms and a really bad memory after so much chemotherapy). I had hoped to learn more, but the pace has been so quick that I’m just cramming stuff into my head, almost gorging to the point of not being able to contain any more. I’m not kidding when I share that I wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and my only thoughts are anatomical terms with visual images of what the terms refer to- “obturator foramen- oh yea, don’t forget it’s a left one”, “left posterior superior iliac spine”, “simple squamous epithelium”, “stratum basale”. I will be so relieved when this class is over! Actually, while I am disappointed that the fruits of my labor are barely average, I am actually not doing so bad when considering that I’ve had gallons of chemotherapy, that I haven’t been in college in 11 years, I dropped out of high school in the 10th grade, and the only science I had was a biology class (with no lab) and an astronomy class in junior college back in 1990. I just totally over-estimated my abilities. But it is what it is, so I’m counting the days until this class is over.
In addition to this anatomy/physiology class there’s the stress of having two teenage foster daughters, both of whom attend summer school, and one who works. Three teenage girls, two in summer school and two who work and we’re constantly driving back and forth. Al’s about to have a huge transition in his job, so he’s preoccupied and stressed too. And I am still homeschooling Jared. What in the hell was I thinking when I registered for this class? I think that shifting invisible line threw me off balance. I have to try to find a way to slow my pace down, to get back to center. I am just so determined that cancer won’t be my single focus that I end up cluttering my life with distractions. And then the cancer reminds me who’s really in charge when I get slammed by my own limitations. So this has been a rough summer, the summer of 2008. I will be glad to put it to rest. Maybe by the end of Fall I’ll have another ten pages worth of stuff to write about?
A beautiful metaphor that one of Andrea’s friends left for her in her blog:
There Is No Death
I am standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, “There! She’s gone!” Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living weight to her destined harbor.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, There! She’s gone! there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “There she comes!”
And that is dying.
– Henry Jackson van Dyke