Monday, September 10, 2007

The Best Laid Plans...

I had a post all planned for today. It was all about food. I had pictures lined up of purple beans and pancakes and dumplings. I was going to warn you not to read on an empty stomach.

But things have changed since yesterday. This morning I learned that my cousin's husband, Ed, has pancreatic cancer. And it is in stage four having spread to his liver. A week ago he had a stomach ache and now he's been given 8-12 weeks to live.

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this. It does not seem real somehow. I cannot imagine what my cousin Beth is feeling. (You may remember, she's the nurse who won the scholarship.) And then there's Ed's mother. She lost her husband some years ago, he was only 53 and we all thought that was way too young. Now her son will not reach his 50th birthday.

I want to provide some comfort but I have no idea what I can do. Also, I dread seeing Beth. She's always been so bright, as if she carried a light around inside her and I know that that light is probably out now.

And how quickly the past tense creeps in. I was thinking that he was one of my favorite in-laws. But that's not right. He is one of my favorite in-laws. We've always gotten along. We both like being right and we usually agree. He likes Mallomars so we always buy him a bunch at Christmas. They've got a serious shelf life so they last him until spring. I was thinking I could send him a box if I can find them. The nurses would probably object but if you can't eat junk food on your death bed...

And what must he be thinking? We've all wondered, haven't we? What we would do if we were given 6 months to live? Do you really go through all those stages of grief before you get to acceptance? Do you let them do what they can to prolong your life or do you reject that in favor of staying at home? I've spent time in a hospital and it no place to have your final moments on this Earth.

We're often advised to live each day as if it were our last. But that's so hard to sustain. So much of living is routine, slipping by as we deal with all the details of our modern lives. Then you get smacked in the face and find yourself thinking about the choices you've made and will make. I know that eventually the mind returns to the routine but I will try to use the questioning while it lasts, perhaps learn something about what it is that I truly need and value. Maybe I will manage to be more grateful each day, even in the midst of daily life. Perhaps that is all we can ask of ourselves, to be aware of life as it happens and to take a few moments every now and then to appreciate it before it's gone.

1 comment:

Epiphany Alone said...

I wish there were words beyond "I'm sorry". I think for me, I would be sad and angry, and then try to make the best memories I could for those last few weeks for those who survive me. I think I would rather that than to be taken suddenly, because at least then I could make sure that my last words to my daughters weren't "Why do you always put your shoes on the wrong feet?!"

Sending big hugs your way...