Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

This is not uplifting.

If I knew I’d be dead in less than five years, what would I do today?

Read the juicy parts of the paper and forget about the boring stuff. Write letters to Hannah and Brock and Brooke’s baby sister. Buy that fancy bubble dress from the expensive clothes store in the quaint part of town. Buy the beautiful dress that Brooke found in the same store. Find a four-star restaurant and take Brooke. Go on at least one all lesbian cruise. Buy more life insurance. Take out a home equity loan and find a good fertility clinic. Hire a doctor to do IVF with Brooke’s eggs and transfer them to my uterus. Become a mom. Take Sunday afternoon naps with my child and my lover. Feel their breath. Be as present as I possibly can.

Why don’t I do this now?

With the exception of the money-related matters, I do try. I want to live like it could end any time, because I know that it could. Perfectly healthy women in their 20’s have been known to drop dead for no previously anticipated reason. My mother didn’t have the time she wanted to have. Her goal was to meet the five-year survival milestone, and she only had three years, nine months, and seven days. She missed a lot of things that she never thought she would miss, but she lived for what she wanted in that time.

We spent time weeping over fear of death and loss. I was terrified of losing her, and I can’t imagine what her fear might have been like. She tried to ignore it as much as possible while still being aware that her time was so limited. Dying isn’t something we can avoid forever, even if we might put if off through exercise, diet, and medicine, whether allopathic, naturopathic, or traditional. Something I read online somewhere—helpful, I know… it might have been on the website for a television series about death and dying—mentioned that we don’t ever die alone, that countless people have gone before us, that we are in good company. That’s reassuring somehow, even knowing that whatever is beyond this life is not something I can know.

To be completely honest, I don’t know if I buy the Christian concept of Heaven. Obviously, harps and clouds and white robes exist only as props for cartoonists, but I even mean the idea that upon death, our bodiless selves meet God, are measured by the Creator and finally understand right from wrong, and live in eternity close to God. I’m a member of the Great Jesus Fan Club often referred to as The Church, but whatever it is that lies beyond here is beyond me.

That makes me less concerned with getting my spiritual affairs in order before death. Sure, feeling a closeness with God in the last days of my life will be comforting and such, but praying every day that I accept Jesus Christ as My Personal Lord and Savior ™ seems disingenuous. I’m here on this earth to live and love and experience a fullness of life, not to win points to get to the next round.


At 10:39 PM, Blogger Grace said...

Em, that was a fantastic entry. Thank you.


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