“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (Corinthians 13:4-7)
my friend’s ashes were blessed, reminisces shared, tears shed today at the small catholic church in englewood. i comforted friends from my past and was comforted by my friends of today. i sat quietly while others shared their history and insight. his longtime friend read the famous passage on love and i understood it more intimately than i could ever imagine. i ceremoniously put to rest any idea that i could head backwards.
i need to set a new course. i am unsure. it is not frightening, but i am reticent. i can’t intuit how to move forward. i can’t feel my feet. i can feel the wind and hear the pounding surf. i feel cold. i am waiting and trying my damnedest to lean into the unknowing.
there are (as always) many opinions for me to choose from. not my usual style though. internal wisdom tells me if i don’t know what to do, then do nothing. life is just like playing poker sometimes. good bye my dear friend. safe journey. you will be missed.
and as for me, i am still. i am not a body. i am free. for i am still…… as god created me.
i am completely without words to describe just how helpless i feel. my good friend was diagnosed with 4th stage liver cancer recently. it has metastasized in 4 places on his liver and it is beyond treatment. i can’t fix it and i can’t make it go away.
at first he presented with a distinct sense of defeat. this had concerned me greatly. he resigned from his job and set up an at home hospice situation. it all seemed so fast and surreal. then he began to talk about things like healthy living, diet and nutrition, and chinese medicine. this gave me some sense of relief. and hope.
but recently, there has been a shift. i get the sense that he is avoiding my calls and isolating. i hope i am wrong, but i have been down a road similar to this on several occasions and it sucks. it is painful. it feels hopeless. i am not at all eager to do again.
on the other hand, i do love my friend. just as i loved my friends before. my experience taught me that when people get physically ill, they turn inward emotionally.. it’s so much effort to communicate. and it’s hard to see oneself (sick) in another persons eyes. it’s as if they are saying “let me go” without any words.
today, at a meeting, after another person shared, i came to understand that i haven’t wanted to deal with this situation. at all. so i have been making myself crazy trying to avoid it. i have been defensive. i have been boastful. i have instigated not-so-good things. i have worn a victim silhouette.
but as i grow towards what i hope is the light, i have to accept where i am at. and i have to understand it and i have to be willing to let it go. i posted a quote today that suggested opening one’s heart means showing the scars that are there. simple set of words with a much more significant process to make happen. but i’m gonna try. even if it makes me cry. and i know it is gonna.
another week has flown by and it seems fairly full. my friend lost her battle with parkinson’s on wednesday and made her transition. there is mostly relief in my heart. it has been an experience to really absorb that i am available to offer support to strangers every day, but i was not able to do the same thing for someone i cared for deeply. character defect? most definitely. and i have to find a way to make peace with it. i understand that there will be a service in late april sometime. the family and her direct caregivers must be exhausted.
the hep-c support group is finally approved by the powers that be at the hospital and the first monthly group will start on 2/14. a licensed social worker will be facilitating and this is sponsored and supported by the hep-c connection. since we have a methadone clinic and an hiv clinic on campus we already have about 1000 patients who are hep-c positive. this is probably a good idea.
i will be flying to chicago for a memorial service of a family friend. she passed over the holidays, but cremation allows a less hurried planning process and a more intentioned attendance. i will only be there for a couple of days. probably not long enough. along the same lines, i was considering going to london with a chicago friend in june, but am leaning away from that idea right now.
i have applied for a part time position at a small counseling agency to work with clients on parole. i think it might be great experience and add a niche on my resume. the owner of the agency has recently been diagnosed with 4th stage pancreatic cancer and his wife will need support. this is the best way i am able to offer it.
as i read over the principles of the 12 step program, i am reminded that there is a responsibility with the gift of sobriety. i am guaranteed a life without the plague of obsession and chaos, but this does have requirements to keep healthy. this is a good place for me to begin my weekend.
sad news yesterday came my way. kenny-a friend who has been in the hospital for several months with multiple complications from lymphoma had passed over. not sad for him, as he had been in a coma for 3 of those months, his body riddled with shingles, he acquired a viral pneumonia that wasn’t responding to treatment, and the multitude of meds he was taking were taking their own toll.
i met kenny about 6 years ago with his wife Susan at a 12 step meeting on a Saturday morning. His wife was a colorful and eccentric woman who wore leopard print and brightly colored eyeglasses with contrasting shoes and bags. he had just decided to get clean about a year before i did. it turned out that we had the same person for a sponsor and would share breakfast together after meetings with sponsees or with each other. his soul was of the kindest ilk. he looked to the good things in people, where i could never say that is my first stop. he exuded caring and shared openly and honestly about the chasms he had traversed.
susan passed about 2 years ago, in february i think. she had contracted cancer as well, and had mental health issues that compounded with her illness and with chemo. he had contract lymphoma 2 years prior to that, but had aced a rocky venture with his chemo and seemed to be thriving. and he hunkered down and became caretaker for his ailing wife with more dignity and grace than hallmark can put in a month of programming. and he mourned openly and lovingly for several months after her passing.
kenny taught me about acceptance in a surprising way. he always greeted me with a positive tone and an air of inclusivity that astonished me. during several years of our friendship, i found myself riddled with ptsd and untreated mental health issues which encased me in standoffishness and aloofness bound by self judgement. he would always act as if none of that were visible, even though i had pushed so many others away. every encounter left me feeling as if i were one of the boys. boy did i need that, too.
i will miss him and i will miss the possibility of seeing him again. but i smile everytime i have thought of him these last few months. not for his pain, but for his life and what his spirit brought into mine.