Monday, April 30, 2007


It’s a rainy, dreary day, and I’m in a rainy, dreary mood. A year ago today was the last day Lisa was fully conscious, and the last day she spoke coherently. At least — and I will always be profoundly grateful for this — she was never in pain. The tumor was in the brain stem, shutting down the body functions that aren’t consciously controlled; we were told — less than 36 hours before — that she would simply get more and more tired and eventually fall asleep and not wake up. And that’s exactly what happened: an easier end than many, but hard enough to bear.

I wish we had had more time to talk about it. She had been so determined to live that we didn’t really talk about the possibility of her death until the very end, and it was a jumble, trying to fit in years of thought and philosophy and comfort into about 36 hours. At the same time, I’m glad it was quick. I grew up with tornadoes, not hurricanes; I understand how to deal with random, intense devastation, dropping out of nowhere and gone again in an instant. Lisa and I went through one hurricane together (Gloria), and I thought I would go out of my mind after four hours of it. I don’t know if I could have handled a longer dying — and yet I’d have given anything for a little more time together. It’s not that I feel there was much of anything left unsaid — I think we got through the crucial stuff — but there’s stuff I would have said better, and more of, if we had had more time.

I saw a newspaper story recently that said that the bereaved felt not depression, but yearning, and certainly that’s been true for me. I yearn for her, I ache for her presence, I listen for her in spite of myself. I still think of emailing her with new ideas, or look up from a book to tell her she has to read this one. Last week, I bought a new mystery, and realized it was more for her than for me.

And yet, I’m making new starts. For the first time in nearly 30 years, I’m meeting people who have never known Lisa. And, to be honest, I’m enjoying them. I do think about how much Lisa would have liked them, but I’m also enjoying them for their own sake. I spent a weekend with people from the knitters’ list, and had a wonderful time. I have begun work on two novels that Lisa never knew about; I’ve finished a short story she never saw.

The last thing Lisa said was, “Thank everybody.” I think I have as much or more to be grateful for, so I offer my thanks as well. Thanks to all my friends, old friends and new ones, the ones who knew Lisa and the ones who didn’t. Thanks for being yourselves: it makes all the difference.


At 10:14 AM, Blogger Linda J. said...

Best wishes in your journey. I'm glad that spring is coming, a little at a time. Your courage is an inspiration.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger df said...

You said, "... not depression, but yearning...." That's it!

Thanks for your post today, which brought a lump to my throat.

Wishing you all the best.

Diane in Chico, CA.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger M-H said...

Hard to write this stuff, and hard to read it as well. But so much harder to live it. One day at a time, you come back to some kind of life. Which is not as you knew it, but can still be good.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Ender said...

beautiful post as always. your strength and your yearning are beautiful. thank you for sharing them.

At 1:12 AM, Blogger Brooklynne Michelle said...

thank you for this post soo much, right now i'm struggling with the idea that my mother may die, she might... and as much as I want to demand that she cant and yell about how i wont allow it, it wont change a damn thing... it sad it saddens me but i have to be prepared a little bit... i'm not sure what i will do, she leapt on her father casket as he was lowered tohis grave three years ago, I fear that i might do the same!!

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Dharma said...

Oh my, not just a lump but actual tears. "...not depression, but yearning..." make so much sense. More descriptive and accurate to talk about some losses. Thank you for your willingness to share this journey.

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Barbara said...

sending you a hug and the hope for clear skies and sunshine soon.


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