Ernest Hemingway once wrote that he often had writer's block, and this would worry him. The thought of not being able to write would begin to make him anxious, and that he would "stand and look over the roofs of Paris and think, "Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there."
My true sentence for today is: I truly do not know what to make of the things we are asked to do in this life.
I attended the memorial service of Mary Davis today. She was only 62, and she was the first person in my support group that has passed away. I didn't know too much about her, but I saw her every time I was there. She once told me I had beautiful eyelashes. I learned about as much as I know of her today during the service. She was an old hippie. She loved to drink and smoke good stuff and surrounded herself with colorful people. She had two lesbian daughters, both with serious life partners, one of whom spoke today. She said that when she went to Mary's house, she was always the most conservative person there. I thought that was funny, and thought of how I wish I could've known Mary in better times. I think we would've gotten on famously. The last time I saw her, she had been taken off all of her pain medication except Advil because she kept having hallucinations, and she'd had brain surgery just a week or so before. It was awful to see her in so much pain. She said she was ready for the pain to end.
I don't know what to say really besides that. I guess it's good that the pain is gone, and that is that. That is about as much as you can say. It's unfair. So unfair that Mary had to go through this; unfair that so many people are losing their fight to this. And a part of me wishes I didn't know about this world, this place where so many people are fighting this disease. A part of me wishes that I could go back to just being oblivious to the struggle so many are having, a struggle of literally life and death.
In the last month, three of my friends have found out that their cancer has metastasized to organs in their body. To be honest, Mary's funeral showed me that I am not ready for this: to watch people I love fight this fight. And yet, I find myself coming to the conclusion that there is no choice here to be made. This is how it's going to be, and I will undoubtedly watch them do it. I will do my best as a human being to be there when they need to know that others can be. Isn't that what a support group is? People who understand the struggle you are having? My friends without cancer, so many have slipped away, unable to cope. And I can't do that to those that have been there and watched as I coped.
I am always amazed how my friend Faith does it. She keeps up with everyone, goes to see them in the hospital, brings food and cards and soup and checks up with all of us on the phone every week. I want to ask her, what is it that keeps you going? Don't you just want to quit sometimes, just disappear? Aren't you tired of watching everyone suffer and die?
After today I guess I understand that the only other choice is pretending it's not happening. So you buck up, you just jump in and do what needs to be done, and you learn to deal with it as you go. No one is born knowing how to look a dieing person in the eyes. But you do it because it's the best thing for you and it's the best thing for them, and what comes after that is really insignificant. Everything else sort of takes care of itself.
So that's it. I know in the next month and year and decade I'll see my friends go through things, some good and some bad. I am fearful of what may come, and I hope for the very best. I am not big on prayer, but, if you're reading this, I ask you to please pray for my friends. Pray that they not suffer the way Mary did.
And pray for all of us, that we be the persons we need to be when we are called to be that support. And for peace, not just on Earth, but everywhere, in every one of us. Lastly, pray that this is not in vain. Because if it is, I just don't see how any of us can look the same at our insignificant little lives.