HAP Posted December 9, 2013 Report Share Posted December 9, 2013 Dear friends, My happiness and hope ended three years ago this morning. Jane would not die for another 33 hours after her doctors told me there was nothing left we could do but make her comfortable and let her die, an act that would end our lives together—and an act I had promised her we would take when a fighting chance descended into no chance. We both died that day. Her body would die just before 8 p.m. on December 10, 2010. My body continues to breathe, to eat, to sleep—but the majority of my spirit has lain in the grave with her already. Were it not for the work I have promised her I would finish, my ashes would rest with her as well. But there is a cancer to fight, people to serve, and a life left to be lived. I gave her my word I would continue to fight, continue to serve, continue to live. Doing the first two has been easy—my anger at the gross unfairness of her death and the government whose inaction brought her death to pass and the painful love I have always had for my fellow creatures have seen to that. My love for Jane has multiplied the supply of both those fuels and let me channel them against the foulness of both the literal and figurative cancers we face. It is the living that is hard. I have seen the face of death and my own death holds no fear for me. It is the deaths of others—particularly the deaths of those close to me—that I dread. I could avoid all of that by simply withdrawing from the world. But the life of a hermit is not living—and even if it were I would still know that people were dying in the world—often dying from things that could be prevented; there would still be suffering in the world—suffering brought on by things that could be prevented. I cannot prevent either death or suffering. I have tried to do both—and more than once. Those failures have been painful. But they would have been more painful had I not tried. I was in a play once in which one of the characters talked about the importance of not giving in to death. Don’t go easily, he said, “fight dirty.” Jane and I fought dirty at every turn in our struggle with NET cancer. We were not going down without one hell of a fight. I think now, sometimes, that we fought too long and too hard. I think now, sometimes, that after she died I should have walked away and become absorbed in my own needs and desires. But so long as one of our two bodies lives—and as long as that cancer is still out their killing people--we will keep fighting—and keep fighting dirty. Three years is a long time—and no time at all. Some days the loss is so painful nothing can distract me from it. Some days, the tears are there from the moment I wake up until I cry myself to sleep that night. No one sees me on those days. No one hears me. I let the grief wash over me until it is done. I get up. I take a shower. I move forward, knowing there is another wave out there that will knock me down again—may even wash me all the way back to where I began. Some days the loss of Jane is a dull ache. It is there but not entirely debilitating. Sometimes, I can almost forget those last months, weeks, days, and hours. Sometimes I can remember our wedding day, a hike to the top of a mountain, a quiet, seemingly unimportant day of the two of us shopping or just sitting on the couch. Sometimes it almost feels like she has just gone out with her sister for the afternoon and I’m merely home alone. I even have an entire hour, sometimes, where I feel like Lazarus, freshly risen from the grave. Life again seems special and filled with promise. And then I remember and the tears are on me again: I have lived in Paradise and been returned to Hell. But there is work for me in Hell—and a life to be lived. I have a full water bucket and a sturdy dipper. The souls around me are thirsty—and when the bucket is empty, there is a stream in the distance where I can refill it. I may be damned for it, but I will be damned if I will not try to slake the thirst and ease the suffering of those I can. Both death and suffering can be eased by the compassion of others--even in Hell. Peace, Harry Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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