Yesterday I went to my friend N’s mother’s calling hours. Her mom, Mrs. A., had died on Friday morning while in hospice care, having had ovarian cancer for five years or so.
I loved Mrs. A., just like I loved Mr. A. who passed before her. I wrote about his death, but I’m not sure where it is and so I won’t link to it. It’s the end of an era in a way, with both of N’s parents being gone which is incredibly sad in itself. Unless I go before my mom, her death will be the end of an era, with my brother, sisters, and me going from being someone’s child to being nobody’s child. I can’t imagine. It must be such a strange feeling, your strongest links to the past being gone like that.
I’ve known Mrs. A. for as long as I’ve known N., since I was nine years old. I can still remember sitting in their kitchen, Mrs. A. giving me wonderful East Indian foods to eat, samosas being one of my favorites and those sticky sweet twisted desserts that I can never remember the name of being another favorite.
Selfishly, I suppose, I loved seeing N and her wonderful husband, J, yesterday, but of course I wish it had been under happier circumstances. Being the thoughtful people they are, they both asked me how I’M doing, even in the midst of their grief.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post how well I’m doing on these new chemo drugs, and I am to a certain extent, but I do tend to downplay the fatigue which is a huge part of it. I’m tired most of the time, and work wears me out even though it probably wouldn’t be that taxing to a healthy individual. Almost like clockwork, around 3:00, I really start to crash which makes homelife difficult. I often end up just going home and crawling into bed for the rest of the evening. I hate not being there fully for my son and husband. It’s hard.
Anyways, yesterday’s calling hours also selfishly made me wonder about my own mother and me. Will I die before she does (she’s 83 now; 84 at the end of Aug.)? Or will the treatment(s) work and help me live to raise my own son which is my biggest wish, my largest prayer. Just give me enough time with Energy Boy, God . . . please.
It’s the unspoken selfish thing that goes through my mind, and perhaps the minds of others with cancer when someone with cancer dies. It goes through my mind especially when it’s someone with breast cancer: that could have been me, that could be me. It’s been — so far — the unspoken part that I think right after I’m struck by how sad that person’s death is, what a loss to the world that they’ve died. Then I go to the unspoken place, the place that maybe others think about but don’t talk about, the place that makes me sound selfish to myself, the “that could have been/could be me” place.
I hate that place. I hate it not just because it just makes me sound so very selfish, but I hate it because . . . I also don’t want to go there. But I do. I can’t help but go there with my illness.
I’m sorry, Mrs. A. — and all those others who have gone before me. I’m sorry for being so selfish when I should be thinking about and grieving your death. And I DO think about and grieve your death, but there’s a tiny part of me that does the “what if?” Then I typically feel guilty about thinking that, and go back to grieving whoever was lost to us.
Love and death. It’s so hard to lose people that sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to love less, but the answer to that is always “No,” for the people I’ve lost have enriched my life so very much that I’m glad I knew them. I’m glad I knew them, loved them, and even grieve them, for it’s in grieving that we know that we are capable of such love. The heart has the capacity for more love than we can even imagine and I’d hate to miss out on any of it just out of fear. I feel that way about even the closest people that I’ve lost; probably feel that way even more about those closest to me that I’ve lost. No matter how long their time here, I am glad for having known them, for having loved and been loved by them, for having them enrich my life.
I just hope that when my time does come (and I hope that’s a long time from now) that I can leave such a legacy as well. A legacy of love, given and received. I can think of no better legacy.
Good-bye, Mrs. A. I trust and hope you are truly resting in peace right now. You enriched my life, and I’m glad I knew you. Thanks for the samosas.
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.