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When Does A Scream Become Something Else?

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Dear friends,

There are days I just want to scream.

This is one of them.

There is no good reason for it. In fact the day started fairly pleasantly. I dreamed–for only the second time since her death that I can remember–about Jane. We were walking down a city street. I had to stop to do something and she continued walking because–as she said–she was moving slowly these days and I would catch up.

I did catch up and we turned down another street. She asked if we could sit down and rest a bit, so we did.

And then I woke up. There was nothing sad about it. It was really quite pleasant. No cause for tears–and I did not shed any. I just lay there in the comfort of it for a while.

I got up, showered, and put myself together for the dentist. Then I sat down for a bit and answered some email and put together the agenda for the Greater Fall River Relay for Life Planning Meeting I have to chair tomorrow night.

But all the while there was this thing in the back of my mind. I had a friend going in for surgery today–cancer surgery. It is the kind of thing that puts an edge on a day–knowing someone is facing that kind of thing. And in the 11 months since Jane’s operation that edge has been even sharper.

I went to the dentist. They filled two teeth with a new kind of filling that is supposed to bind the tooth together, unlike the wedges of the old amalgam things that gradually split soft teeth like mine in half. I marveled at the procedure and how far dentistry has come over the course of my lifetime.

We have come a long way in the treatment of many forms of cancer over that time period as well. But there are too many we just have no good handle on. Part of it is money. In a world of finite resources, choices have to be made. Intellectually, I get that. Emotionally…well, that is something else again.

The weather had turned raw by the time I got back from the dentist. I looked at my outside chores and decided this was not a day to be standing on a ladder with the back blast of a power washer soaking me to the skin. I ate lunch. Thought some more about my friend’s surgery and decided I needed to go to the cemetery to water the flowers I put on Jane’s grave two days ago to mark the tenth month since her passing. I had gone out to the cutting garden on Monday and taken some of every kind of flower she loved that was in bloom. I had stood by her grave after I arranged them and wept.

I pulled the watering can out of the trunk when I got there and filled it with water. The flowers had, indeed, been thirsty. After I filled the vase, I stood there asking the why questions I always ask on gray days. Even on sunny days the answers are never satisfactory. I cried again, then got in the car and came home. I tried to watch a comedy film, but the jokes fell flat.

I had dinner, did my dishes, and took the short walk down the hall. I composed a letter for the Divisional President of the American Cancer Society and sent it off to one of Jane’s doctors who has promised to add a couple of paragraphs. I answered some more e-mails and thought again about my friend. I will hear nothing before tomorrow. I will hope the news then will be good.

But the unfairness of it all grinds at me. My patience is worn to onion skin.

Why this one and not that one? Why this good one while that one who beats his kids lives to a ripe old age?

The Buddhist in me chides, “Life is suffering.”

I scowl back like an angry child. Then I soften. Life is life.

I will sleep tonight. Tomorrow, I will get up. I will plan the day ahead. I will make slow progress on the work we shared–and on the new work this new life requires.

There are cancers out there–literal and figurative–that need to be fought and brought to bay. The battles may make me scream some days but who can really tell the difference between a scream and a war cry?



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I think we all understand those days when we want to scream. As pleasant as your dream was, it could be a contributing factor. I dream of Bill quite often...all pleasant except one. When I awaken it is bittersweet. The dreams are so real that I expect him to be there for a second or so...then it hits. Perhaps that was going on with you also...just a thought and that coupled with your friend's surgery...and gray days...well that is surely enough.

It poured all day today...really poured all day....taking the leaves off my maple tree...not a cheerful day.

I am sorry you are having a tough one and do hope tomorrow is a bit better for you and that your friend is ok.


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Dear Harry,

I also have had many dreams with Pauline in them, some good and some not so good. They come and go as so does our feelings for our lost love. Some days you are right why Pauline, no one else in her family has ever had MS. One the other hand, her mother, all her uncles passed from one type of cancer or another. I would take Ms any day to cancer. Today they have medications and Doctors who have came to understand MS, and are very good treatments for it in the early stages, that Pauline never had a chance for.

I went home and done what I told you I would do, when we spoke yesterday. My mind was on you and the person with the cancer. I only hope that I was heard, along with many others asking for the same thing.

We will never know why it's, one or that one gets, cancer, or MS. We can only fight the battle for funding, so that others may not have to suffer through what, Your Jane, and My Pauline had to suffer through at life's end. We can only move forward, like you do with Walking With Jane, web site and all the walks you have done and will do again, to fight the fight you are doing.

God Bless, My Friend Harry,


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I do understand about the days that you just want to scream. Nothing has to really happen to set it off, just suddenly you are wondering, where is the fairness! And all you want to do is scream. Your writing about your day was so familiar. Because what you are doing, is what we all have to do, we just put one foot in front of the other, and stagger on. I have to plan out my days, or I will just spend them mindlessly on the computer, or reading, so that I don't have to think. Like you I keep busy, but underneath it all, I just want to scream. I have had only one dream about Mike in the 21 months since his death, that seemed real, and that I remember sharply. There have been other dreams, but even though I knew he was in them, they are vague and shadow type of dreams.

I hope your day today is better. We had thunderstorm here in the Ozarks last night and the night before, missed sitting with him on the back porch to enjoy the storm sounds and feeling. Mades me sad.

Mary (Queeniemary) in Arkansas

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Harry, When you said "But the unfairness of it all grinds at me. My patience is worn to onion skin. Why this one and not that one? Why this good one while that one who beats his kids lives to a ripe old age?".

I always feel like that. I worked with sex offenders as part of my degree, after my dads sudden death at age 50 I went back to work with these men, much older men in their 70s, some were apologetic but the majority were manipulative individuals. They had hurt and ruined the lives of young children, usually their own and yet were living to such an old age, just so they could continue to do these things? Some were angry, shouted at me, some laughed, I couldn't take it. I always have this question for people who believe in God, if theres an almighty being who decides these things, if he wants to make the world a better place why would he leave the people who do bad things and make people sad and take away the people who make people happy?

As you said, Life is Life and that's the way it is, and I guess we'll never get our answers.

Take care

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I get it, have many times wondered why?! Why did this happen to Mike and why did this happen to me, when others that I see waltz through life, or I guess just seem to. I have no answer and I cant accept statements that this is " gods will" as it seems to me that a good and mercifull god wouldnt allow such pain in this world.....just dont get it!

I thought of you the other day, for I am to joining in a walk, "Light the night walk" here in Tempe on 11/12, it is for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society... for this disease has had a horrible impact on my family....it killed my BELOVED grandfather in 99, he was such a genuine kind man, his son my Uncle Ron, at the age of 53 10/10..........and what an impact this disease had just recently...Mikes mom died in 1981 from this, after suffering for 3 yrs from this infliction......sending Mike to live with a Alcoholic father/stepmother at a young age......Mike was very close to his mom, and cant help to wonder......if Mikes mom would have lived.......would have Mike suffered the same affiction as his dad/stepmom.....yes I know alcoholism has a genetic connection and yet cant help to believe that environmental forces also contribute.....and yes blame this disease on Mikes alcoholism, find it easy to blame Mike for this and yet, what would I have done if my mom had died when I was 15, after suffering so.....unfortunately by the time Mike became sober, the damage was done.........so off I will go and try to raise money for this disease, and do what I can to help others avoid the impact that this disease has caused for us in my family.....Dave

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Hi all,

It's been awhile and I was never a screamer in the first place. But this morning a song came on the radio when I was thinking of what would have been our 27th wedding anniversary this past Wednesday and I just snapped. It is what it is some days.

Right after that my daughter started texting me and then we talked about her school saying she is 150 hours short from graduating when she is set to graduate in November.

Life moves on at the right time sometimes..............

Sometime a scream is just a scream.

She did ask me if I had a sore throat, she said I sounded a little hoarse.

Nah, I am fine.

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I don't remember screaming, but certainly crying, and I suppose both are just different venues of outlet.

How is your friend with the cancer doing?

I asked myself all of the whys until I realized it was futile, I never got any answers. Why did George die instead of someone else? Why did I lose my job? Why was the only one that would hire me last time someone who would treat me with disrespect and not pay me on time? Why did lose this job? Why did the market have to turn upside down and ruin the value of my home and stop the sale of houses just when I need it? Why am I 59 and facing so much stress and uncertainty about my future? Why am I alone at this age? Why me?

No answers. I feel like my asking "why" just accentuates my powerlessness, so I try to keep going and do what I can do and accept what I can't change or do anything about.

It's neat that you have a place to go to to put flowers (on Jane's grave). I had George cremated and spread his ashes in our back yard...it's going to be tough when I leave this place because I want him with me, but I know it's figurative...it's just that emotion doesn't always have to make sense.

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We all have those moments in life, after the great loss, where we want to scream. I look at that as anger and I will not let myself go there, because for me it would be anger directed at Pauline, so like Kay I cry until that emotion passes, and they do.

I for one am glad that Pauline and I decided years ago to donate our bodies to science, that way we get the ashes back and do with then what we wanted. I know what Pauline wanted, and I will save some for a small vial we got just for that, so Pauline will be with me always and forever. After Pauline's Mother passed, she only went to her grave twice, because we know that is just her shell, the part of the human left behind. She knew where her Mother's spirit is, even the Indians knew the same thing. Our spirit is lifted, up wards and awaits us, when it is our time to join them.

I know it is a comfort to go to put new flowers and take care of the site, a place of comfort, where you can tell them your deepest thoughts of the day or days you have had. It gives you peace in your heart and soul. It helps heal you from the inside out. So keep going, keep healing and life will become brighter again some day also. Peace is where you find it, whereever that is.

God Bless


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Oh I felt anger all right, I just don't remember if I screamed or not. I was angry plenty, at God, at George, at the nurse that wouldn't let me be with him, at my sister who wouldn't bring me back to the hospital in time to have a "last talk", at everyone who still got to keep their husbands and life, at people who say stupid things to you when you're grieving, at all his family and our friends that disappeared on me, at life in general.

I don't see a whole lot of difference between crying and screaming, they're both ways of venting and both fight what's happened to us, and to-be-expected forms of grief. We just have to go through all of it, if we suppress it or try to avoid it...it's still there waiting for us to go through it.

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