I've Learned... Not So Much

Some people slip from this mortal coil with little warning.  Others of us get some inkling that the end is near, and theoretically that means that we have time to prepare ourselves and our loved ones for our inevitable passing.

So what have I done with the past three years?

I'm not entirely sure.

There are still so many things I need to do - things to knit, things to write, things to organize - and so little time and energy with which to do them.  I know it's going to be impossible to do everything I want to do, and that is so frustrating.  I'm pretty realistic about my situation, I think, but that doesn't mean that I'm ready to go.  I wonder if anyone ever is?  

I'm afraid that I haven't learned as much as I should have about people and life and even about myself in the five decades I've been here - I feel as though I should be wiser than I am, and better prepared.  

I shouldn't be as worried as I am about other people, I should have more faith that things will work out.  I shouldn't be as impatient with youthful foibles as I am - after all, most of us do survive the mistakes we made as youngsters, and growing up will happen with or without my interference or assistance.  

I shouldn't be sweating the small stuff at this point in my life.  I shouldn't get so irritated when people don't know what to say, so they say stupid stuff ("well, you LOOK good...")  I shouldn't get so confused when people say things probably meant to be complimentary ("you are such an amazing/strong/fierce fighter..." - what does that mean?) and instead just enjoy the fact that they care enough about me to say something nice.  I should remember to compliment others more often, to let people know how much I appreciate them and love them.  

I should have a better idea of what life is all about.  You would think that with several years' warning, I'd have had time to figure all this out, but I don't think I've used the time correctly, or something, because I don't feel that I'm any wiser or better a person than I was four years ago.

What is the likelihood that I will close this huge gap in wisdom and accomplishment in a few short months, when I haven't done so in the last few years?  

Which means that I will go out pretty much in the same state that I came in... wrinkled, unevenly developed, flawed, and human.  



Delighted Hands said...

We all have to mull these questions....some go quickly and never get to do so. I think I would be grateful for the time to prepare those around me for my passing but I can't imagine really doing this.

Thank you for discussing things close to your heart.

Celticsprite said...

Know that I support who you are, and feel enriched by having found you (family by internet), but also here when you pass, for our family, as will Sean. I'm sure he will be helpful to Bren. Here's hoping you have time to figure things out. I guess people don't know quite what to say. Some people feel very uncomfortable, want to be kind, but don't know quite how to be so. The fact that you endure all of these treatments, outwardly (at least) seem to be very brave makes people believe you are a fighter. To be sure, our family will grieve, but will eventually come to terms (one never "gets over" a death). We will pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, and carry on. You will never be forgotten, but we will carry on. Let me know if I can do anything. With love, Me

Ellen said...

I can't think of anything to say that isn't stupid and trite sounding. I want to tell you that you are inspiring in your determination to beat this disease in any way you can. Hell, even when you lose, your life has made a difference in so many other lives because you put yourself out there for all to see. Good days and bad days; you shared them all with us and let us see some of what it is like to be You. I wish this didn't happen to you, but knowing you and going on your journey in a small way with you has made an impact that I don't know how to describe. I may feel stupid trying to say something to you to try to make you feel better in any way, but damn, I wish you didn't have to die. I'll always remember you and that's the idea, right? You may not think of it this way, but you are immortal because you have touched so many lives.
Ellen Porcari (HPF)

soren2go said...

I found your web-site by accident. It resonated with me because I was the care-taker for my youngest son who died from metastisized cancer. Like others, I do not know the "right" things to say but I believe it is important to reach out. I personally think that your words in this last post showed that you have learned alot. Your desire to share your journey will be a testament to your family and all those whose lives you have touched. My personal faith leads me to end with prayers for you and your family during the precious time you have left together. Would you believe that the word verification below is "grace"?

timary said...

Remember that dream about your grandmother that you told me about? You are headed for that beautiful garden of unearthly colors. And I bet your grandmother will be there to greet you. This life is not about finding the answers but about asking the questions, which I know you have excelled at. So don't fret. I love you and look forward to laughing with you on the other side of the veil. xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to think of something to say, and there aren't really any words. But wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you.

Jean said...

I am thinking of you. How could anyone feel any differently? We are all dying every minute of the day, but don't stop to think about it. How could we ever feel we're leaving at anything but the middle. Wait, I want to see how it all turns out! I lost my father when I was 19, and it has shaped my life in some positive ways, as I tend to think the thoughts you are having.

Oh God, I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. I don't know you but you're right down the hill from me in St. Paul in the hospital. My thoughts are w/ all of you and your family. Thank God for blogging.

Richard Hickey said...

I'm here lurking and thinking of you. Fingers crossed.


Jill Stanze said...

Hi there Eileen. After meeting you during my chemo this past summer, I started following your blog. Words from your heart and life offered to us unselfishly. Thank you for that. Our time together in the 'chemo lounge' was meaningful to me and I always hoped there would be a chair open by you!

I am wondering something. I have done lots of nutritional research, especially about our bodies ph level and the oxygenation of cells, among other things. Cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment. They also like an environment with no (or less) oxygen because cancer cells are anaerobic. Have you poured yourself into any of the suggested nutritional protocols that might help change your current predicted outcome? I am being serious in my thoughts as this is a serious time. I would regret not mentioning this so I hope you will forgive my "plea" or if this is something you have tried. I have not known you very long to know the paths you've taken. Please don't leave your complete health picture to the answers of traditional Western medicine alone. There are far too many studies and information out there to indicate that diet modifications can drastically change the outcome of someone with metastatic cancer. Some diets are as extreme as the Gerson therapy or the Budwig diet. Others are less extreme but are still a far cry from our typical modern day diet. At this point what have you got to lose? You can watch many things on YouTube like The Gerson Miracle or Food Matters or read "Cancer-free" by Bill Henderson or "How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine" by Michael Murphy (even endorsed by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America). Once you start 'looking', you'll discover more than you could possibly absorb. Like you, I have had surgery, chemo and radiation and now my diet has drastically changed. We might not have control over much, but we can control what we eat.

In some way this is my way of saying to you - KEEP learning! :)

Please know I am thinking about you and your family. Hugs, bunches of them are being sent your way. Love, Jill

Dayle Ann Stratton said...

"Which means that I will go out pretty much in the same state that I came in... wrinkled, unevenly developed, flawed, and human." Eileen, do you know what a beautiful statement that is? You have lived a life of grace, in spite of imperfection, and still you thirst to grow and to give. I think that the person you are is pretty close to being the best that any of us can aspire to. I doubt any of us reach our full potential. That's human: we all have more in us than we get a chance to develop. I'm sorry you are facing leaving it before you feel ready. And part of that is because I realize how much I am learning from you. You are wiser and have much more insight that you think. I don't know you in person, but I wish I did, and would call you friend. I guess in a way I do, through your blog (thank you) and from the fibre group. You are a gift, and you are leaving behind a beautiful legacy through your words and thoughts. How many of us will benefit from them when our turn comes?

laurie said...

I get caught in the trap of thinking about all I haven't done or haven't fixed on a regular basis. Sometimes, what I need is for someone to remind me to take stock of all I have achieved and of all that is good in my life. You will see - your achievements are much more than than your "failings."
I so wish you were sharing different news with us. I have a big lump in my throat as I write this but I am also filled with respect and admiration for how you express yourself and how you are facing everything.
Ugh - having a hard time expressing myself. Just know that I'm thinking of you. xo

The Violet Hoarder said...

Wrinkled, unevenly developed, flawed, human...and utterly perfect. Like all of us.