From the Kindness Blog: Scars of Love

I found this recently on the Kindness Blog, and it struck me to the heart. I want to share it with you, because I am in the process of losing my mother to incurable cancer. My bright, talented, graceful, beautiful, funny, clever, wonderful, loving and amazing mother, who survived two bouts of breast cancer, is in Stage 4 lung cancer due to metastatic breast cancer. She has lost nearly half of her body weight, and is fragile and in pain. However, my wonderful 90-year old dad and Hospice are taking wonderful care of her. On my visits I bring food (as do many of her loving friends), and we talk and laugh together.

She may have as much as six months to live; perhaps less, perhaps more. She considers it a blessing that she can chose how she leaves this world. At age 83 she sees no reason to endure the pain and sickness of chemotherapy. She now enjoys some medications that dull the pain, allow her to sleep, have decent mobility, and have also brought her appetite is back. Her mind is as sharp and clear as ever, and she is glad to be able to direct and manage her remaining time.

My dad and I agree completely with this decision, too. If I were in her shoes, I would do exactly the same. Quality of life trumps length of life every time.

I have loved and lost both my grandparents, some aunts and uncles, and a few friends. I am incredibly lucky to be 64 years old and still have both my parents.

The following offering from the Kindness Blog touched me deeply, and helps me to see better the road ahead. I am going to miss my mother’s physical presence for the rest of my life. I know that there will be good days, bad days, amazing days, sad days, and just ok days. I also know that both my mother and father raised me well and raised me to be resourceful and strong. I know I can survive this. I also know beyond any doubt that I will see her and everyone I have ever loved and lost again where we all will be together in endless light and love.

Posted on The Kindness Blog by G. Snow

“All right–here goes. I’m old. What that means is I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not.

I’ve lost  friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes.

My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function.

You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

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