I want to side-step today: not from the feelings that tsunami into our hearts, our psyches, our emotions but rather to open up to and recognize within ourselves one of so many illnesses that eventuate and invade any and sometimes all part(s) of our body as we strive to cope with too many of our loved ones passing. I believe that many of us, if not most of us, have suffered, are still suffering from, the loss of a family member, a friend, a partner to the ravages of cancer. The relationship of who that person might be really doesn’t matter: it is the love that you share with, you give to, someone that brings such inexplicable and at times magical light into our lives and into theirs. With their passing, that light dims but only for as long as we let it. I know it’s easier said than done to let go for ourselves, to let our loved ones go into another light, a light that surrounds those who are waiting: those who have already passed and understand the delirium the unknowing of what they are passing into.
I think that individual who is imprisoned in their illness and nearing the time when they will no longer see us in this life is so often brave for us where when we should be brave for them. I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it, and make no mistake there is a perception of guilt, I believe unavoidable, that melds with all the emotions that run through us. Did I do enough: did I spend enough time: was I understanding: did I over sympathize: did I, did I, did I. I can’t answer that any more than you can: we just continue to beat ourselves up. We have to forgive ourselves as – in all likelihood – there is truly nothing that needs forgiving. We torture ourselves. We are the ones who are bereft: who got left behind. What do we do now? What we mustn’t do is sink ourselves into a quagmire of self-deprecation, self-doubt, self-nothingness. How easy that is: how difficult it is to climb out of.
I wrote something a while ago that I want to share with you now. It is my self-created impression sensitivity reflection of me imagining how someone dearly loved might want to share their thoughts, their feelings, with those who will ultimately suffer the physical loss of their loved one.
I call my piece “The Wisdom of Albert Schweitzer”
“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”
I don’t know if you, my videotographer – my friend - prefers the silence and curtained light of anonymity, but I want to shout from everywhere about the gentle daylight that you have brought into my life.
I believe one of my greatest fears is being lost in someone’s memory, replaced in someone’s heart … pitied with the unspoken feeling that someone else was perhaps feeling guilty yet grateful because it wasn’t them suffering anymore with and/or through the cancerous physical, emotional, and mindful uncertainties and anxieties embedded in me.
I hesitated to take this videoed journey with you, for you, unsure of how you would see me, react to me, perceive the effects of my illness. I didn’t stop, at first, to understand that you too have lived in pain, felt the same trepidation and coldness of what might happen if … But you took my hand, you touched my heart, and you brought me into your life – your life when it was “normal,” your life when it became so unfairly afflicted with disease, so unhinged and spinning in so many directions, and then eventually your life as you began to take it back, to fight back, and to survive the cancerous hell that invaded your life.
You spoke to me about the inextricably emotional and psychological casualties that plagued you until your friend, your videotographer, shared his experiences with you. How hand-in-hand he walked you with you and spoke with you about the insight he received hoping that it would bring you knowledge and understanding, comfort and support, and steadfast resolve to step by step fight and move towards the light of recovery, towards freedom from your cancer.
You have rekindled a life’s fire in me that will light my way and burn my cancerous enemy. Your courage has become my courage; your strength mine; and your kindness and sensitivity my inspiration. Thank you.
I wrote this with the underlying unspoken wishful prayer that this “someone” of mine would survive: that I would survive. I wrote it to try and bring some semblance of serenity and quiet, a reach to acceptance, of what might well be inescapable.
Maybe in some way it will help you. I don’t know, but I hope it will.