Thursday, July 7, 2011


All this clean California air... my lungs don't know what to do with it.  It makes me want to nap and drink 75 cups of tea. Not at the same time of course.

I left my 2nd MFA residency and headed to Washington DC. I went to visit a good friend of mine in a rough place. I don't think she even invited me to stay. I told her I was planning a visit, I needed to pay her a visit, just to see where she was mentally and if I could offer her any words of understanding.

My friend, let's call her Donna, was preforming an incredible feat of selflessness. She opened up her home to a dying friend. A friend with terminal cancer.  People who know me well are familiar with my story and my family history. I watched two people close to me, my mother and sister, die of cancer. My mom went first followed by my sister two and half years later.

My mother never acted sick. She was in a clinical trial for small cell lung cancer and attended undergraduate college part time.  One day she was in class, the next day she had difficulty breathing, went to the ER and never came out.   She died at 11:30pm  on September 10, 2001. I took the last flight out of Houston that night (and luckily I did b/c we all know what happened the next day) hoping to say goodbye to her. When my plane touched down at BWI, she was already gone.

My sister had undiagnosed pain for a year. When the source of the pain was discovered, she was told she had stage 4 cancer. That was April 2003. She went into out patient hospice December 2003 and died within 6 weeks.  My sister  held on for nearly two weeks after the death rattle began,  she held on through all the medical predictions of "within hours", and she held on for a week without a traceable blood pressure.  She died on a during an ice storm on a Monday. She was 46 years old.

My heart went out to my friend Donna when she told me she was caring for her terminal ill friend.  I am a writer but I do not have the words to express what happens when a person dies slowly and painfully in front of you. You want your loved one to end their suffering, to go peacefully into the after life. But you selfishly do not want them to go, to leave you in the wake of grief - the fog that envelops you then dissipates over time, therapy, and a lot of cupcakes.

Donna was a good shape though. In much better shape that I had anticipated. Her friend had left to be with family and decided to live our her final days there.  The day after I left Donna's house, her friend died.  She sent me a text and a I cried like it was yesterday my niece called me to tell me my sister finally let go.

Whether you get to say goodbye to a terminally ill loved one or you make peace with their eventual demise, I think it's important to reach out people may need your help. That's what I did for Donna and doing so, I helped myself.

WOW! What a totally depressing post...

I missed two Igpay Atinlay posts. I owe you 2 and then some.

Peace Out,

1 comment:

Hunter Liguore said...

While completely "D" epressing, it's truthful, and resinates with those who may've gone through it.