sunset

Holding Tight...

"... To live in this world

you must be able
to do three thing: to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go."


-- Mary Oliver, "In Blackwater Woods"

It's a gorgeous poem. I bought a book it's in to simply have it and then another copy for my Kindle as the imagery at the beginning is so evocative...

On Monday, I went to visit a friend of mine who is in the very last stages of ovarian cancer. She's in hospice, now, and weak enough she mostly stays in bed. It was a visit that she and I have been planning for nearly a month, with one not-quite happening just before Thanksgiving. One of my low-level dreads has been that she'd die before we could come face-to-face again, and I live so close to her.



I was actually on the tail end of a bad cold then, something that had gone through my nose, into my throat, and then took residence up in my chest and lungs. I had nightmares some nights, at altitude, when I simply couldn't get enough air. But I was mostly recovered the week before we had to get ready to go to San Diego for Thanksgiving.

I guess it's been a while since I've written. *laughs*

Anyway... After a week or two of wrangling schedules, I finally got the okay by her and her husband to come over one afternoon at 2:30. I realized, around noon, that with even the tail end of my cold, it might not be the best thing to pass onto her in her condition, so I called to ask if I should come at all, or if I should wear and anti-viral face mask. They said to just come anyway, but to have the face mask ready.

John assumed that I'd just wear a construction mask. I'd thought of it, but realized it wasn't going to do a damned thing for what I was worried about, the contagious aspect. So I actually went to Target and then to Walgreens to finally find a box of anti-viral face masks. I was still out too early to go over to their house, so I'd parked in the Walgreens' parking lot with a book and was reading it when my phone went off. It was her husband, calling me to tell me that she'd gotten dizzy, fell over, and threw up, and that he felt it'd be better if I didn't come over right then. I agreed, and suddenly realized that I felt much much better for not exposing her to even the tail end of the cold.

Done Bird
We flew off to San Diego and had a blast: beaches, sunshine, and eighty degree weather. We walked in arroyos and saw red-tailed hawks, and I sat down and painted what was right in front of me, and that was good. I made the turkey, as I do every year now, and Mom always buys these natural, fresh birds that cook in nearly no time at all. We had the huge feast, with 3D puzzles for everyone not cooking to work on while waiting. Also Kathy started showing us Yowamushi Pedal on Crunchyroll, and we fell in love with the series. It's about a very earnest young man just starting high school, who has a gift for bicycles.

It's so much fun.

I also had a bit of an adventure trying to find beach gear when I'd left my swimsuit at home. The boys and I wandered through Pacific Beach and Mission Beach and the "swim suit" shops there that had thousands of bikinis in various stages of omg... *laughs* Jet's eyes were very very wide in a few of the shops. Ahem. We ended up in a surfboard shop simply for relief, and the owner, when he heard that we were looking for a woman's swimsuit said, "Well... next door are all the bikinis..."

And we said, "We know... we're looking for something else."

"Well," he hesitated. "I've got girls' boarding shorts over in that corner..."

Higher Tide
And that was perfect. I got a pair of plaid orange and brown boarding shorts and a bright orange swim/exercise/tri-athlete top and I was ALL set for the beach.

We did a lot of beach. We also did Lego Land, the Zoo, and hiking a canyon by Kathy's new place. We also went to a Bahn Mi store that was absolutely wonderful, and now I want to find some place local.

It was strange cooking the turkey in 80 degree weather, and the kitchen got really warm, but it turned out all right! Mom had these amazing Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes from a local Asian market, and she just steamed them until they were cooked through. We also had the more traditional stuffing, mashed potatoes (with garlic), a green bean cassarole (though I used TJ's haricort verts, TJ's mushroom soup, and their less oily fried onions), and canned cranberry sauce. Dessert was a pumpkin pie that I'd baked the day before with whipped cream that Kathy brought.

Sunset
It was a good Thanksgiving, and when we came home, we were treated to this amazing sunset.

Back home, and I am dealing with a lot of stuff as moderator at church. Nearly none of which I can talk about, but it's been kind of trying. And it was one of the reasons the visit was so difficult to schedule.

And then on Saturday my dying friend sent me an email giving me a time when I could come visit. So I did. On Monday afternoon. And it was actually really good. It was pretty obvious she was working to breathe, and she didn't have much energy. She was struggling a little for words, but her sense of humor, her sense of her past, and her mind was all still there and still her. So we sat and talked and giggled together and marveled at people. I got to talk with her a bit about my church challenges and she gave me some sage advise for some of it and was just as baffled as I was with other parts of it, which helped. I gave them cream of butternut squash soup, which they had for two meals. She, in turn, asked me if anyone in my family liked liver, and I said pretty frankly that my boys hate it, but I really enjoy it when it's done right.

So she gave me a frozen package of organic beef liver, and I had it for lunch yesterday, and ended up crying at the end of my meal.

Grief is a funny thing. Especially long-term grief. I remember when Fezzik had non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and he went along on doggy chemo for about a year. It's more for his quality of life than to 'cure' the cancer as he was nearing the end of his life by any means. But it gave us a lot of time to grieve and to appreciate him at the same time, and to come to grips with the reality of his condition. I've been to grips with my friend's condition for a while, and being able to visit her brought home some of it, but it also made it pretty clear that that wasn't the important part.

The important part was that we were friends, that we could comfort and celebrate each other, still. That giving her hugs was still good for both of us, and that it felt good when she admired and rubbed my tattoo. *laughs* We share what we can when we can, and I'll let go only when I have to, and that'll be important, too.

Between the trip home and all of this I was grinding my teeth more, and all the teeth around the new crown ached, badly, and there were even days when they were sensitive to heat as well as cold. Not good. So I went into the dentist on Tuesday (within a few hours of when I called them), and they found out that the crown is still a little high and hitting harder than the other teeth, so they adjusted it and told me to wait for two weeks and see how it goes.

It is now better, but the ache itself had gone a bit deeper than it should, as it was involving the whole side of my face. That's now gradually receding, but one of the consequences is that the crowned tooth itself is finally starting to hurt. So I'm taking my ibuprofen and going to stick it out for the two weeks and hope things heal up.

One thing that I have been doing has been playing less TF2 and a lot more Minecraft, lately. The stress of killing other players really just started getting to me, and it's a lot of fun building things in Minecraft, especially with the IndustrialCraft 2 and BuildCraft modifications. It's fun making diamonds with Jet. *laughs* He also went into the Nether and lucked into glowstone, but on coming out of the portal, fell off a cliff and didn't quite die. Instead, he found an oil geyser! I have a geothermal generator that uses lava source blocks to generate the energy I need to compress, bake (furnace), and grind things to make everything from rubber tree taps to advanced circuitry that includes semi-intelligent robots that run about finding things to pick up for me. *laughs*

The mining quarry requires a bit more gold than I've been able to find, and neither of us have explored the Nether enough to come across all the potion ingredients... yet. Or the Eyes of Ender and the portal to the Ender Dragon. But it's way too cool having two tall tanks filled with lava for all the energy needs of my machine room.

Jet's gone to the various high schools around here, as we have open enrollment, and he's looked through the IB program one and the Universal High School program, and all the other things that are available to him that I wouldn't even have dreamed of when I was in High School. He should do well whatever he chooses, but it's good to have programs that really interest him. I loved that the IB coordinator said that the kids that most often drop out of the program are the ones whose parents made them do it instead of doing it through their own motivation. I don't know how many parents will actually hear that, but I certainly did.

So life's been pretty good. I'm still meeting up with another friend on Thursday mornings, and just writing whatever comes to hand. I'm struggling with the end of a 1000 word story (and I keep going back and tightening it up just a bit more...), and I got to read John Chu's The Water that Falls On You From Nowhere and loved it. I'm glad it won the Hugo, and will look for more from him. So I took a little time out to just write this and realize I really miss it a lot.
I always enjoy reading your entries, and am glad to know things are well with you.
Glad to read things are going well & that you had such a lovely holiday.

Grief is a strange, strange thing. I'm grateful that you're getting an opportunity to work through it in a way that feels positive to you.
Thank you!

And, yes. It's kind of a privilege, I think... which seems an odd way of putting it, but after George's death, where there was the profound feeling of being grateful for being present... it's changed a lot of how I see loss and how fiercely I simply want to be present with someone I care about. In some ways, it's the thing I can do when I can't do anything about the inevitability of this and many other losses.

Anyway... thank you, and yes, and I'm glad of your friendship through all these decades.
I'm glad you got to see your friend. *hugs*

Came across this a couple of days ago while searching for something else:

(In the introduction to her book "The Death of a Woman," Jungian analyst Jane Wheelwright cites an event in the life of Edna Kaehele who had been sent home from the hospital to die of cancer:)

She recounts the experience of looking at herself in the mirror and seeing the skeleton she had become. At the same time, however, she was aware of her self being very much there. She wrote, "If this divestiture of the flesh cannot alter the inner life -- can anything? Can time? Can eternity? You know finally, simply, and irrefutably that you exist independent of this flesh; that you will continue to exist as an independent entity through aeons of changing matter." (p. 10).



Edited at 2014-12-12 09:26 pm (UTC)
*hugs* I'm very thankful, yes.

Oh, yes. That. Thank you.

I think that's what I got a sense of with her and this visit.