It didn't start out this way 16 years ago, but it has been a good, long while now since this blog became a more collaborative effort between you, dear readers, and me than just one woman's scribblings.
You supplied a bunch of terrific suggestions last week on the story, Age Friendly Adaptations, Adjustments and Workarounds and you leave plenty of other smart observations and thoughts that continue to help me in what I have been calling my predicament.
You also continue to embarrass me with lovely comments about how brave I am, how well I am handling this, how much I have helped you or that you have learned from me, as I write about moving forward toward my death.
For certain, I am no expert on anything. My knowledge after nearly 80 years on Earth is as wide as a prairie and shallow as a desert ditch. A little of this and that. No more.
However, after so long at it now, you have convinced me that I am providing something of value to a good many of you. Stuff that you print out and save in various ways and pass on to others. I take pride in that.
You are right, I think, that I have a good deal of common sense and an ability to accommodate with a measure of equanimity the slings and arrows thrown my way. I seem to have been born not a “why me?” person, but a “why not me?” person. And aren't I lucky for that. It saves a lot of grief and self-pity.
Before I get to where I intend to be going with this essay, let me take one little detour.
It was only a couple of weeks ago, I think, I that said in a housekeeping post that I am tired a lot now and I don't have the energy to answer all email that comes my way.
If I did not say so directly, let me do so now: that was meant to tell you to stop sending so much. There are thousands of you and one of me and it doesn't matter that you tell me not to answer. When I receive a nice email or one with a good idea for Saturday's Interesting Stuff, I feel the obligation of a thank you, and I feel guilty if I skip it.
Yes, that's on me, not you, but there is a reason I mentioned the word “collaboration” at top of this post and I need you to step up a little.
Two or three mornings ago, I opened my email inbox to 28 (!) reader emails. In fact, one reader had sent nine of them. A few others sent two or three and then there were the singletons. I was defeated.
Most had attached an MP4 video file, almost all of which never play correctly and I am announcing now that I officially will never try to open one again.
Plus, I've been riding the internet video horse-y every day since about 1992. Except on the rare occasion it is something brand new, only twice a week or so does someone send a video I haven't seen before.
So, unless you can send me a link to an established, online video service like YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter etc., that allows re-posting, then don't. I don't have a lot time left for foolin' around with poor technology.
Back to my original intent:
Just about every philosopher and other important thinker throughout history has observed of the human condition that we are born, we live and we die. It is as simple as that.
Two children's books I noted here a few weeks ago made that point and I unexpectedly run across it regularly enough that I have come to believe the universe is banging away at me with something I need to pay attention to, to practice:
We are born, we live, we die.
Just Saturday, having a lie-down in mid-afternoon, the universe reached out to me in that regard again.
I tuned in the movie Charlotte's Web - the good one from 2006 – which I had never seen and had not read in book form for at least half a century. And there at the end, Charlotte the spider says to Wilbur the pig:
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die.”
Believe that quotation now as from me to you.
You who read here regularly know that I have in my possession the end-of-life drugs Oregon allows terminally ill patients to use to leave this world on their own terms.
But let me be clear. I am not suicidal. Although each day becomes a little harder to live now, I continue to choose life because there are still good days and – as far as I can tell, even with all the philosophers', thinkers', Freddy the leaf's and spiders' reminders - to live is the imperative.
What I would ask of you is this: collaborate with me. Let us help each other. Take what you find valuable here and pass it on. There are not a lot of places in our lives where we can talk as openly as we do here about this end-of-life stuff, and so many other people are frightened to do so. Or even to hear.
So collect it, pass it on, add to it from what others say here, expand on it, explain, show us your strengths and your fears, be true and be real.
Don't preach. Don't tell people how to do it. Just show one another what it is like for you and let them decide. But don't let end-of-life be a secret. We can help each other find our way.