Following Friday's post, janinsanfran sent this note:
”A friend whose partner has just advanced into hospice care (spinal cancers) wrote this to their friends: 'There is no good way to die. But if we must die, and we all must, may it be with a community as loving, as present, as kind as you.'”
Oh my god, yes. How can I possibly thank this community that has responded to Friday's post about my new cancer with such an outpouring of love and care and concern and humor.
I've always believed you are, each and every one of you, the most special blog readers on the planet and you proved it on Friday and over and over again through the weekend.
You have had me weeping for all the best reasons.
I read each of the hundreds of responses in the comments and dozens of others that arrived via email and Facebook. And then I read them all again.
So let's do this together and see what happens. I made a few notes from all your comments on TGB, Facebook and emails.
In just the third comment to arrive, Genie wrote:
”This morning I imagine you as the captain for this journey. I only hope the ship is large because there are so many of us coming aboard.”
And the rest of you ran with the boat metaphor, adopting it as our preferred means of travel.
Deborah May wishes for the next phase be “full of sunshine and serenity - with calm waters given the number of us on this boat (ocean liner) with you.”
Tarzana thinks we should hold a contest to name this boat we're on:
”I can already think of many possibilities,” she wrote. “Courageous, Hope, Gratitude, Fortitude, Journey's End and so forth. Your loving readers are much cleverer than I so I'd expect some real stunning, even humorous entries.”
Do take a shot at it if you are so inclined (yes, definitely even humorous entries). I'll select four or five and then we can vote.
I learned that there are more of you than I guessed who are cancer survivors or in the throes of treatment or living with the aftermath of this awful disease – or another terrible “disease of age.” I wish with all my might we did not share this.
Of course, I recognize many names in those Friday comments but there are a lot, too, that I've never seen before, first-time commenters. Quite a few of you mentioned that you've been reading TGB since the beginning or near enough – did you know that's 15 years ago now?
I was amazed to read that for some of you, the blog is the first thing you check online each morning. If I'd known that, I would have worked harder at it all these years.
Daria tells us that “a friend nearing the end of her life smiled and said, 'Now I can eat bacon anytime I want!'” Yes! Me too.
I mentioned that I instantly gave up my daily workout and am relieved to not need to worry about dementia anymore. I've since added Facebook. I use FB only as a secondary distribution channel for TGB and I have not the first clue about how to use it. To me, it's functionality appears to be a holy mess and now I have the best reason in the world not to learn it. You guys came up with some other things I don't need to do anymore.
Kathy Zachary said she won't miss flossing when she's dead. Yes. That too. Mary noted that I “won’t see the horror and dismantling of our democracy if trump is re-elected in 2020.”
Good thought but I've been saying since 2015 that I will be pissed off big time if I die before I find out what the demise of the Trump era will be like. Color me pissed.
Marilyn Dalton noted that I don't have to worry about outliving my money. Good point. And Carol Girgis gave me a smile that nearly broke my face, first quoting me, "Now I don't have to worry about dementia" and responding, “Best line I've ever read, written in these circumstances.”
Moving along, poet Tom Delmore sent a short video by Leonard Cohen who died in 2016 at the age of 81. It is supposed to be about finding his voice but it is also deeply pertinent to what I face now.
May I live up to Cohen's conclusion in these coming final days.
Apparently Leonard Cohen is on others' minds too. Faith sent a Cohen poem about courage which you will find here.
John Brayton left this quotation from Donald Hall's final book, A Carnival of Losses: Notes on Nearing Ninety - new this year and an instant favorite of mine. Hall died earlier this year at age 89:
"I feel the circles grow smaller, and old age is a ceremony of losses, which is on the whole preferable to dying at forty-seven or fifty-two. When I lament and darken over my diminishments, I accomplish nothing. It's better to sit at the window all day, pleased to watch birds, barns, and flowers."
I agree, and thank you Mr. Hall for saying it so well.
What a gift and honor to have so many of you on this new journey with me. With all you here, I think I can get through just about anything.