Sunday, September 26, 2010

Make It Last

I've been slowly reading Promise Me.
Couldn't read anything but the "Maura vignette" for over a week after getting the book. Then, I dove into the rest this weekend.
Today, I biked home after church, stopping at a nifty tea room for a cup of soothing something-or-other and a chance to read some more of the book. I love the whole idea of biking somewhere I can read while sipping tea. It's all part of our new hip urban lifestyle. All I need are some organic cotton clothes and I'll be set. But, hey, I was wearing yoga pants, so that ought to count for something.
I don't know how I got through the chapter entitled "Make It Last", to tell you the truth. I had to stop every minute or so to wipe tears from my eyes and blow my nose on a napkin. I have no idea what the people next to me thought, but they kept peering at me over their laptops. Sniveling isn't part of the whole hip urban lifestyle.
The chapter details the time following Suzy's reoccurence and metastasis of her breast cancer until her death. So much of it rang so true for me, and I saw myself in Nancy and in her mom. I saw Joel in Suzy's husband and father. And I saw so much of Danielle and Lydia in Nancy.
I share similar experiences: Helping Maura to bathe when she was too weak; helping her cross the street; waiting with her time and again at MD Anderson; sometimes not talking; sometimes words pouring out so fast they tumbled onto each other. WAtching and listening as Maura allowed herself to be heartbroken for dreams unrealized.
But here is the quote that leaves me sobbing right now as well as at the Tea House:
"Because this is the place you come to when someone you love is slowly dying: You're desperate for it to be over, and even more desperate to make it last."


Sue G said...

My mom died of ovarian and breast cancer (x2) back in the days when hospital visiting hours were rigid and people were kicked out even when loved ones were dying. I got the call in the middle of the night. The doctor said, "Susie, she's gone." I said, "Thank God."

Cancer is the only illness I know that makes a person initially glad that their love one's pain is over, that their journey has extended into the spiritual plane replete with beauty we have never known. It is a hideous life during the dying process and a hideous death.

It took me about six months to stop feeling grateful and start feeling pain and anger. I was a motherless child. My mom suffered for years, exchanging pieces of herself for time. She bore the burden admirably. She deserved to win. Instead she died at 56.

My mother wasn't afraid of dying. She was afraid of the process of dying. And so I was grateful the process was over, unable to continue to hurt her.

I think it's about time we have more success stories than losses. I think it's about time we say "thank God" because of winning the war instead of losing the pain.

I think it's time that so many cancers are not considered orphan diseases. The other day I was on a chat roll for kidney cancer patients and their caregivers. I mentioned a good friend of mine, only 23, had died that day. Some asked of what. I said sarcoma.

Everyone on the chat asked the same question. What's that?

Jim Coffey said...

Excellent post as always. And on the lighter side,

Be sure and get some YELLOW yoga pants ! Very hip and urban, especially if they have yellow sunflowers !

Love lots.

Chelsea said...

That is incredibly moving, Erin. I totally agree with the yellow yoga pants and sunflowers!!!