A TGB READER STORY: Word Puzzles
Settling Into My End Days – Or Die Trying

Follow-Up on Monday's Death With Dignity Post

There is so much love in your responses to Monday's post about medical aid in dying. It goes both ways, you know.

Your comments are like an injection of strength for me. When I falter about all this death and dying stuff – as regularly happens - I think about your belief in me and I can find my way forward again completing the circle of this remarkable community you and I have developed.

It is both of us, you know, that makes this work.

Reading through all your caring, kind and understanding comments on Monday's post several times brought some questions to mind – or rather, some answers to questions you did and did not not ask but are lurking there if you pay attention.

Not for the first time, you mentioned my generosity in writing about real and scary stuff here. Funny. I have never thought of it as generous. Mostly, when it comes up, I wonder if I'm being self-indulgent.

Since I was a little girl, I have kept – if haphazardly so – journals about my life and whatever else interests me. Writing has always been how I sort out difficult events, thoughts, ideas.

I was so grateful when decades ago I ran across this quotation from British novelist E.M. Forster: “How can I tell what I think until I see what say?” Yes, I thought then, exactly. That's why I do all this scribbling. And it is what I have come to do with the blog.

In your comments, there is a suggestion or two I can't locate right now that I might stop writing this blog. Not yet, my friends, not yet. I still have a lot to figure out and will want your help along the way.

That's it for today. I know this is short and doesn't really go anywhere but it's the best I can do today and I'll explain on Friday.

Thank you all for your always interesting and thoughtful responses.

Comments

See you on Friday!
Hugs

As I have said here before, we learn from those who are dying. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your reality with us. Expressions of your experience demystify a subject not casually discussed. Thank you for being the eyes into a final journey. To me it feels heroic. My wish is comfort for you. Looking forward to many more chapters here.

Your writing looks like courage to me. I think courage consists in looking reality in the face -- when possible with equanimity -- when not possible, not -- and keeping on keeping on. We live in a dissembling, turning aside culture most of the time. You don't. Much love and comfort.

Ronni, I love the quote you included, “How can I tell what I think until I see what I say?”

That’s the story of my senior life in writing now. If I write it, it’s real, and really me.

The immediacy and “real feel” of what you write is endlessly refreshing.

And I look forward to more!

Like I said Ronni you have a best selling non fiction book in you!

With great appreciation

It is generosity. I certainly do not have the wealth you have. Thank you. B

Dear Ronni, Since our “comments are like an injection of strength” for you, I would like to add my long overdue comment. Please add my care, kindness and appreciation for you and all that you write! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Ruth Marchese

Ronni, your writing comes from the heart and from someone who has lived and will continue to bring us along on the journey, no matter how it ends up. I am so grateful that I found your blog and I look forward to your future posts. You tell it how it is and I have learned a lot from you and your readers. Bravo and thank you.

Ronni, like yourself, journaling is next to breathing for me. When I had a breakdown 30 years ago and attempted suicide at age 46, I threw away all my journals before my almost fatal act. I began journaling again during my fourth mental hospital stay and now I am up to 162 journals, stored under my bed and in my closet. My writing is sometimes profound, sometimes funny, but mostly the day to day stuff of living. I am divorced and have lived alone for almost 30 years; those journals serve as my witness to a life spent trying to figure it all out. In this pandemic they continue to ask similar questions: why all this suffering? how can people be so selfish and stupid? Never mind. They keep me going and I write daily as I drink my morning tea and then look for your essay. I too don't know about courage, as I have often spoken and written publicly about my human struggles, but I do know this practice keeps me sane and I trust it will continue to do the same for you. Thank you for being an authentic voice in this human wilderness.

Ronni I think you are brave & honest, and terrific.

"A lamp unto my feet," or some such thing, I don't know where it comes from, but you do that for others Ronni, spreading light, shining it into often unseen areas. I'm most grateful, as many others also seem to be.

Somehow, looking at our fears seems to make them more manageable, rather than enlarging them, which is what so many fear. I awoke in terror last week, with the realization that being single and without family, I would need to arrange for my body after I died. "I don't know how to do this!" Then "Just forget it, my soul will be gone anyway, let whatever happens happen." But no, althought this body and I have had our differences, it has ferried me through 77 years, and deserves, at least, respect. So the next morning I called a crematorium and talked with Christopher, who sounded like maybe he'd died already. Anyway, fear arises, if we can befriend it, it has much to teach us. For this life and transitioning to whatever comes next.

Thanks for the laugh, Salinda, I needed it this morning running around trying to clean up,
house and patio long ignored...due to plumbing problems....now have a friend who will be here for lunch with masks on and social distancing it will great to see her again.

And thank you, Ronni, for all the light you shed to make clear the way through the high seas, and the dangerous shoals, ever onward toward our
final destination where this ship ends up.

XO

Ronni,
Your blog is one of the most enjoyable parts of my week. You have been living with such openness during this time. You make me think. Although we have never met I feel as if you are a friend. When you are no longer with us I will grieve and carry your memory in my heart. I am not ready to do that yet. Hang in to achieve your goal of voting. ❤️❤️❤️

Thank you for sharing your journey, Ronni. It is especially helpful now since many are facing similar decisions, updating DNRs, wills, etc.
Take care.

Whenever there is an issue in my life that I don't understand, I write about it. My daughter, when living at home, said I talk things to death. Well, maybe...and if I can't talk, I will write, and perhaps do both because in writing it all out, I'm able to better vocalize my feelings.

As I tell other friends, keep writing...

Your quote about writing really hit home. I wish I would have journaled more in the years of my first marriage when we were raising our kids. I lost so much of what was happening then. Was I really happy or just pretending to be? No one to really talk to about what really was going on in my difficult marriage...

Now kids are grown and I can really talk to my husband and good friends and I have time to write more. Just starting a blog about our three and a half month summer trip and stay in Langlois Oregon because I want to reflect on “staying home” in a new place and also to remember it for later!

Thank you as always for sharing your journey with us.

Regarding Ronni's quote: "Is there a place where life and death and meaning at least intersect if not each become part of a whole"? R. Bennett

In yesterday's local paper was posted this one, which is remarkable similar in meaning:

"Every moment one lives is different from the other. The good, the bad, hardship, the joy, the tragedy, love, and happiness are all interwoven into one single indescribable whole that is called life. You cannot separate the good from the bad. And perhaps there is no need to do so, either."
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994)
Ronni says it more succinctly!

After reading today’s post I read the many comments made on Monday. You have made a difference in people’s lives and real affection and love running both ways is clear. Some years ago a friend and I worked on our ‘Rules for Living’ after hearing of a young man who decided on five rules to govern is life when he learned he had only months to live. One of our rules was, ‘Be bold’. You have been bold in sharing so much with us. I do not find your honest description of emotions narcissistic, your tone is not self indulgent. It is descriptive and reaches out to each one of us as you plumb your own heart. I am grateful to have stumbled onto your blog. I do not skim what you write but want to know what you have to say. We are all on the river together, your words have brought us closer to what it means to be human. Thank you so much for what you offer and for what you have created.

As a child I was taught to
S how what you've discovered/acquired
H elp others succeed
A ccept and Adapt other points of view and ways of doing things
R each out and not hoard
E ncourage and educate
that's been my mantra ever since, and obviously it is yours, too

So thank you for your generous and unselfish sharing!

I keep thinking about shredding my 20 years worth of journals but I just can't do it, yet. Looking back and looking now at those journals, I realize I wrote and write to anchor myself in the world: I did exist, I do exist and I suppose I can't throw them out - well you can see where that's going!. In fact, reading your blog, Ronni, has grounded me as well as contributing as an anchor. Your posts have made me THINK instead of waffle through the days. I am so very very glad and grateful to have found you.
o/

I’m curious what you (and others) plan to do with your journals. Of course, if we die suddenly we may have no choice, but I find myself thinking more about what to do with them. I’m not sure I’d want anyone reading them, but is there a point when to dispose of them?

You can talk to me anytime!

Laurel, I find myself thinking about your question more and more. I have provided for my many journals to go to my granddaughter after my death, but am now thinking she will not be interested in them. The smart thing to do is ditch them, right? But when? I still don't have the answer, but thanks for sharing the question.

Salinda, glad to hear you've finally made arrangements for your body after death. Always love your black humor.

Thank you Ronni, your clear thoughtful writing gives hope to so many people, including me. I hope that the reason for today's short blog is one that is bringing you happiness, you surely deserve it. If not, I wish you the fortitude to manage it.

Ronni, I am so glad that you are here.

Luci

Psalm 119:105 “A lamp to my feet is Your Word / and a light to my path.”

We don't always agree on the "glories" of old age, but you're a heckuva writer, Ronni!
Many of your readers/commenters are pretty eloquent as well. I wrote a lot in my teenage years, I suppose partially as a coping mechanism for being excluded and bullied. I threw all those journals away when I went off to college. The plan was to start a whole new life with a whole new me, which actually worked (more or less). Drum roll, please: the "Party Girl" was born! She stuck around for the next 20 years or so.

I wrote again in my 40s when I had gotten my life back on track and accepted that I really am a natural introvert and that's O.K., but then stopped and never restarted. There wasn't enough time what with a new marriage, grad school and working 60+ hours/week. I did a LOT of writing on my job, too.

I have plenty of time these days but not much to say especially now that I don't go anywhere (except the grocery store pickup lane) and see almost no one other than my husband--for whom I'm infinitely grateful. I'm in pretty much the same place as many others in our age group, and they put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) better than I could.

My spouse and I decided on disposition of our bodies 30 years ago and bought a prepaid cremation plan. Our urns are stashed in an out-of-the-way cabinet. We haven't quite decided what should be done with the ashes, though, and we need to do that.

Self-indulgent? Oh no, no, no.
Utterly courageous? Yes.
Just note the countless bloggers who feign "helpfulness" when in fact all they desire is an audience, or a platform, or a place to show-off their travel or clothing or whatever. This blog is not that. This blog is entertaining, thoughtful, deeply helpful on a really tough subject and obviously a labor of love.
I've never understood why people journal, forgive me, but I also don't understand sports, slot machines or Elvis. I'm sure many would be grossed out by my current interest in vermiculture.
Hang in there and keep writing, Kiddo. We are in this with you until...
xox

That is exactly how I feel about writing. I discover how I feel. Thank you for saying it so succinctly.

I am glad you have been able to see how many people care about you and how truly special you are.

Thank you so much, Ronni. Your blog means so much to me. Yes, you have a generous spirit. A very generous and loving spirit. I am grateful for you.

Writing about your life, whether in journals or stories, has a value because it can leave a record of who we were and what we did. That is, it can if we don’t destroy it. Socio-cultural historians would have few primary sources for their research if people had not kept journals. My son owes his PhD to the men who wrote about their experiences when they ventured West to hunt for gold as well as the journals and letters of the women who stayed behind. So find a way to keep what you write even if the recipient to whom you leave it isn’t especially interested in actually reading those journals. Some future cultural anthropologist may consider them gold mines of information.

I have looked forward to your posts reading them more than once for many years. I rarely comment but just need you to know how very much they mean to me. Your writings always teach me something - the wonderful people who do comment always give me even more to think about. At 80 I have needed your words so many times as I become old. You and the people that follow you are always on my grateful list. Thank you Ronni for sharing yourself with us all xo

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