I got an email yesterday from the woman who owns the hosting company that I use. She told us that she just found out she has ovarian cancer, and is merging Host Radius with another company until such time as she can come back. I am not too worried about the change itself, because I have a feeling the merger will go smooth as silk, and nothing pertaining to my account, whether pricing or service, will be affected.
the way the news disturbed me has been a revalation. No matter how many times we are faced with the specter of death, no matter how close we brush it by, we still seem to have this small expectation in our mind that people will always be around, that things won’t change…not really. Then, when we are confronted once again by the reality, it is a shock all over again.
Let me begin by saying that I have been beyond extremely lucky in my life. I have not had one very close person to me pass away. NOT ONE. The only people that passed that I knew, but was not so close to, were my great-grandparents, and a few great-aunts and uncles, and the mother of one of my childhood friends. While I am grateful for these facts, I feel it has left me woefully unprepared, and uncertain of my own reaction if and when someone close to me should go forth into the Summerlands.
I think some of my own internal belief that things won’t REALLY change comes directly from my mother. My mother has had over a dozen MAJOR operations in her lifetime. Most of which occurred while I was between the ages of 0 and 12. Most of them were not particularly life-threatening, but there was once, when she was undergoing chemotherapy for cervical cancer, that even I, as a child of 3, wondered if she would still be there in the morning.
I can remember fragments and pieces about being that small girl, in my grandmother’s house where we were living while my mother was ill, on the one hand thinking it was a find adventure to be living with my grandmother and my favoritest person in the world, my grandfather. Then on the other hand, helping my grandmother by carefully hoisting a small tray of toast and an empty mug that would be filled by my grandmother, and carrying it carefully to the chair that my mother managed to sit up in part of the time, taking in all the details, from her parchment thin skin, to the kerchief she wore on her head to hide the fact that most of her hair was gone. That is the thing that sticks out most in my mind from those times, that kerchief. My mother always tried to choose the brightest colors available, red and blue and orange and bright pink. My aunt, who was about 12 or 13 at the time, would help by going down to the store down the street and picking up new ones on occasion. Those kerchiefs were like bright blobs of paint stuck haphazardly upon a gray landscape. Half of the time my mother could not even tie them herself, and had to be dressed like a doll. Oh, I rememebr how she hated that, but she was too weak to protest. Sometimes I would curl up next to her in the chair and tell her a story, and she would laugh, a small, restrained sound, as if it pained her. But she laughed. For me.
And fast-forwarding over a quarter of a century, even though my mother and I are essentially estranged, and I have no desire to change that at any time, I still hold on to those memories of her strength of spirit and character that she had back then, and think perhaps that I may have inherited some of that, if only I can learn to tap into it, instead of losing it as I fear she may have.
But back to the subject. When I hear of illnesses, or passings, I am choked with a quiet fear, and while it has no experience behind it, perhaps it is stronger because of that. Because I have no idea what to expect. And besides that one major illnes of my mother’s when I was much too young to fully understand, I have virtually no experience with illness or death. And, I have had to admit to myself after receiving the email from my hosting company, that no matter how much of my brain is analytical and calculating, there is still one small part of me that truly believes that things can be fixed. I suppose some people might call that faith. But I don’t really mean it in that context. I mean that I find it incomprehensible that someone I know or care about might just…be gone one day. I do believe that death is just a part of life, a continuation of it rather than an ending, but as far as someone ending in THIS part of life, I just don’t know how to handle it. I can barely even handle one of my children falling down and getting a bruise. I cry with them when they cry in pain. I feel so helpless, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach akin to despair, racking my brain to find somehting, ANYTHING, to help them, to fix things. But not everything can be fixed.
Life is so frail, and yet so strong at the same time. Life just keeps going on and on, no matter what we feel as individuals. It keeps renewing, growing, changing. And in a more global sense that is such a beautiful thing it almost hurts my mind to think upon it.
No matter how much I feel like laying down and giving up lately, it seems like the very beauty of life and predicatability of death is exactly what keeps me going. Anything predictable can be anticipated, and things that can be anticipated have less power over you the more you allow yourself to examine them. Or, so I hope.
And the fact that this woman who so recently discovered she has a potentially life-threatening illness can state unequivocally that she WILL return, and that she hopes we are all well until that time, is a testament to the power of hope. And faith. No matter what brand of faith you believe in.