Ruminating on Pancreatic Cancer and Me
Famous Last Words

A TGB READER STORY: A Bad Day – May 2020

By Carole Leskin

I tried to find something to post today. Something sweet, gentle, funny or hopeful. But I could not.

Today all I could do was sit - and grieve. Overwhelmed. Where am I? What is happening to the imperfect, but basically kind country I knew?

Minneapolis and St. Paul are burning. George Floyd is murdered. A Central Park bird watcher is reported to the police. More than 100,000 people are dead from COVID=19 with more every day. The pandemic rages on.

The number of people unemployed is as great as during the depression. We can not get close to people. We wear masks. Our loved ones die alone and have no funerals. There is more but this is enough. And so, many of us spend our time inside and afraid.

I try to be optimistic.

Today I failed.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


Carole, I know how incredibly life-affirming you normally are, and how you, your writings and photographs inspire and uplift others. But these are extraordinarily tough times. It's normal to grieve when you have so much loss, so much more loss to anticipate, and little reason to expect anything to improve anytime soon. However, knowing that feeling lousy right now is normal doesn't make our lousy feelings go away. Just know that you're not alone in your grief.

Have you ever thought: “I’m fat.” “I’m old.” “I’m not enough.” “I was young once.” To all my female friends from 30 years and up, most of us are going through the next phase of our lives. We’re at that age where we see wrinkles, gray hair, and extra pounds. We see the cute 25-year-olds and reminisce. But we were also 25, just as they will one day be our age. We aren’t the “girls in their summer clothes” anymore. What they bring to the table with their youth and zest, we bring our wisdom and experience. We have raised families, run households, paid the bills, dealt with disease, sadness, and everything else life has assigned us. Some of us have lost those who were nearest and dearest to us. We are survivors. We are warriors in the quiet. We are women, like a classic car or a fine wine.
Even if our bodies aren’t what they once were, they carry our souls, our courage, and our strength. We shall all enter this chapter of our lives with humility, grace, and pride over everything we have been through, and we should never feel bad about getting older. It’s a privilege that is denied to so many.🌻

from my friend Betty Quinn, we are the same age, she's also a past Girl Scout, and though we don't always agree, we do fight for each other, and for those who need a helping hand. I didn't want to post this with my picture on FB, like she did, but think it's a good one for y'all to see,

AGE: 70

you didn't fail - your country is failing. Sorry.

Thank you Carole, and Wendy. We grieve the loss of our beautiful father and father in law who died alone in a nursing home, where only the briefest visit was allowed.
As for the societal losses, I feel grief and outrage, but also hope to see so many say "no more". Whether we stay in or go out, we can transform that into actions.

As they say...sometimes its ok to not be ok.. Thank you for being real.

130 days ago I couldn't have imagined we would still be losing ground to inanimate protein particles when all we need to do is avoid them. I doubt that you're failing and you can't be held accountable for anyone else's failing. In any case, all we can do now is do our best going forward and remember that this, too, shall pass.

About every third day is like that for me, Carole. What is happening is so appalling. The only comfort I find is a cold one: believing it is necessary. The way we were living, as a country and as a species, was unsustainable. We strained the bounds of cause and effect, or of karma, until they finally burst. Now we are being overwhelmed by a flood of collective consequences that is no respecter of how we have or haven't lived our individual lives. The scientists call it "selection pressure." All our wits and heart are being called on to devise better ways to survive, and the rest of life with us. We'll see if we cut it.

I have those days too, it's human. I also find I tear up more easily now, or cry. That's okay too, also human, and washes the soul clean. Also find that any tiny thing I can do that happens to help someone else is a tonic. But before I slide down the slippery slope of "how to feel better," let me just say that you've just proven that you're human.
P.S. Yesterday I shed tears over finding that that yummy looking little peach pie in my curbside pickup came in a hefty plastic container......that cannot be recycled.
It's hard times, for sure. And things never stay the same.

It’s strange to visit TGB with a heavy heart, and feel it grow heavier still with Ronni’s cancer and sad essays like this one, and still manage to find comfort here. But I do.

All I can say is: "You are among friends." May this chaos end soon.

It is not failure to express what you are feeling. Clearly, you captured what MANY of us are feeling.

Even the most optimistic person alive will have days when it is just all too much. If you live alone, as I do, just the isolation and loneliness can bring you down.

Try to be gentle with yourself, dear, just as you would do for a friend. Let yourself feel without judgment. I have a guess that you will find you way back to a sunnier place. I hope it happens soon.

Struggling too and not seeing the way through yet.

These are not easy days. I am 77 years old, live alone, cannot travel to see my family, especially my 5-yr-old granddaughter--who keeps asking me when will I come to her house, and I follow the daily news and cannot believe this is where our beautiful world is right now.

And I look out at the containers of beautiful flowers that I have planted, and the tomato plants that I am optimistic about, and I am reminded that the sun still comes up in the morning, with or without us, and life is enduring.

And I read your writings, and those of your followers....honest, emotional, not without humor, sometimes difficult, but the love shows through, and I am reminded that life is also Now.

Thank you for all that you have given to all of us. I trust you know we return it in kind.
May it be so.

Carole, it is very hard to be optimistic in these seemingly dark times. (I am already looking toward the future with trepidation, wondering how I will pick myself up out of the deepest, darkest hole that I will fall into should the Monster-in-Chief win another term.) But, for now, today, can you find one small thing to be happy about? It needn't be much -- a cup of your favorite tea, a nearby kitty or doggie who would enjoy a pat, a call with a friend, a neatly made bed. Sometimes life is just too hard and it's okay to retreat and just take care of yourself for a little bit -- you need to put on your own oxygen mask first, before you try to address the needs of your seat mates or the whole damn crashing plane. Sending you a virtual hug.

Thank you for that very honest post Carol. We each have our own coping skills. Feelings belong to us, no explanations ever needed( that's how I feel anyways). I have what I call my mental compartments. One is like a safety deposit box, put away, opened when and if necessary. Another is my minutia compartment which holds trivial happenings and stuff. My favorite compartment is my "Now" mental box where I control what I can and toss what I can't. State of affairs, p0litics,global issues are out of my control for the main part. They will never ruin or disrupt my now. I have earned my happy now, I've paid my dues in a myriad of ways. I was very active in the '60's with all issues and did see things moving forward and still do support from the comfort of my "now" compartment with explanations not needed. Sending smooth thoughts your way😊

It is what it is--but we can each wish and hope for "it was what it was" on the other side. I'd be happy to see the Trugs (tRump's Thugs) leave my city as well as a federal government that would declare war on COVID-19 instead of the American people. On to November. . .in less than 100 days we can VOTE to throw out this tRumpian ****-show for all time.

Some days one must just give in to all the bad news and feel all the feelings. Today is such a day, and I am putting plans on hold, changing my day around, and just letting the hours and the feelings unwind as they wish.

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