somewhere, a fire still burns   27 comments

Posted at 2:15 pm in Uncategorized

As a blogger, sometimes I struggle over how much to say about thoughts or events. It’s not that I’m particularly shy about sharing what I’m thinking, but more that I wonder if some people will find this stuff too hard to handle. Perhaps it will seem too painful to some readers. I wonder if perhaps I should preface a post with a warning. I suppose this piece could be labeled with the “Beware! This content not intended for those who would rather avoid hard stuff!” tag. If you’re inclined to heed that warning and wander off, don’t fret as I’ll soon be putting up another post about one of the many wonderful places we’ve been during this trip. Anyhow, read on if you dare.

There’s much more that I wish to write about this trip – and I will. Although we’ve arrived at our winter haven in Bisbee, I intend to continue writing a fairly chronological account of our wanderings. Hopefully, those will be interspersed with life as it happens to us while here in the desert. However, before writing anything more, there are a few things that I’d like to say about traveling, and what I’m feeling these days.

Yesterday was my birthday – but I’ll admit to having felt rather glum for most of the day. Two years ago, I spent my birthday, sitting on a fold-out cot in the corner of Don’s room in the cancer evaluation wing of a large, modern hospital. He (and I) had been there for most of a week while various scans and other tests were completed after he’d been admitted with a serious infection secondary to as yet undiagnosed cancer. On my birthday, a succession of doctors came and went throughout the day, dropping one bombshell after another concerning the extent of the cancer. The radiology specialist showed up with bone scans and told us, almost verbatim, that instead of telling us which bones had cancer, it would be easier to tell us which didn’t (legs and arms below the hips and shoulders, and skull). Everything else was riddled with cancer. The medical oncologist who would be setting up the chemo said that she could only offer “months, not years.” The good news was that, unlike most people with advanced NSCLC, no tumors had appeared on the scan of his brain, and what had previously seemed to be something on the liver and spleen might not be anything.

After the last of the doctors had been and gone, we laughed darkly at how we could be rejoicing over them not finding evidence cancer in the brain, liver and spleen. Yippee! Hurray! Several days on a very powerful course of IV antibiotics had left Don feeling sufficiently well that he suggested we order take-out chinese food to celebrate my birthday (a tradition we’d had for years), and that I should go down to the hospital gift shop and pick out a card. I did so, and returned to the room. He wrote me a love letter inside – it’s now among my most treasured possessions. We picked at the chinese food – neither of us having much appetite after such a bad day of news. We always made a point of ordering fortune cookies, just because the fortunes were so lame that they were good for a hoot. When I broke open my cookie and unraveled the paper, it said, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” I remember feeling shock and anger wash over me. When Don asked what mine said, instead of swapping fortunes to laugh over, I deftly shoved the nasty scrap of paper into my pocket and came up with some typically lame line such as, “You will impress all with your charm.” I suspect Don knew that I was making up my fortune, but he didn’t press me for a reason. After dinner, we sat on his bed, musing over how quickly life can turn from pretty good to mush, and how this cancer thing had come out of left field. Of course, it was that way when my dad was diagnosed too, and with several of our dogs. It’s probably no great wonder that I have such an incredible hatred for cancer.

Anyhow, that was yesterday. My birthday has become little more than a reminder – a footnote to some evil story that’s probably best forgotten. It’s now another day and I carry on as that seems to be what you do in these situations. But, I thought some of you might be wondering how it feels to “come in from the cold” after almost three months spent on the road in a van with two dogs, so I’d like to write a little about that.

On the wandering life, I have mixed thoughts. On the one hand, I was beginning to feel a little weary from the driving and the making and breaking camp – but just a little. On the other hand, I wonder if my restlessness is so great that I’ll find it hard to remain still. While on the road, five days has been just about my limit for any one place. After that, I’m antsy to be on the move again. I’m hoping that I’ll find enough to do this winter, to be able to settle down to do some of the art and writing that I’ve contemplated while on the road.

What about life on the road? How do I feel about that way of life after almost three months? I’d be lying if I told you it was easy. It isn’t. Traveling in a van with two dogs takes a load of tolerance on everyone’s part. Living this way has very little in common with traveling in a large motorhome. Personal space was at a minimum, particularly during the three weeks when a good friend joined us while we tripped around together in California. However, I think we did okay. At times, Sabrina, Sage, or I, would be growling or snarling – either their canine or my hominid version of “Hey! That’s my spot!” or “Dammit, you’re lying on top of my legs!” But all in all, we managed not too badly – perhaps even gracefully to anyone watching from the sidelines.

But there was a week spent on the Oregon coast when it rained and rained and rained while we tried to keep dry and wait it out in the van. It was horrible. One morning I’d finally had enough, so I packed us up and headed straight for the desert. Then there were the windstorms – the last of which happened just days ago at Red Rock Canyon State Park on the edge of the Mojave. A blow came up so suddenly that the campstove was, quite literally, torn apart and sent flying in a couple of directions. I never did find all of the pieces, so now the lid hinges have been replaced with twisted bits of wire from the roll I keep in my tool box.

How do I feel after all of this traveling? There isn’t one answer. During the times when I’ve been in places alone or almost as alone as you can get, I’ve felt relaxed and at peace. At other times, I’ve felt very stressed – usually when I’ve camped in places where there are other people around. After living on my farm for over thirty years, I’m accustomed to having a lot of unoccupied space around me (unoccupied by humans, that is). In a campground, there’s little sense of personal space. People wander around doing all kinds of odd things. Sometimes weird stuff happpens. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a super place with wonderful geology, but on one night, a group of wannabe musicians and a photographer showed up at one in the morning and proceeded to shoot photos using a strobe flash to light up the towering cliffs. This went on until 5 a.m. A couple of days later, a group of ORV enthusiasts camped a bit down from me and sat around half the night, lighting up the whole end of the canyon with propane torchieres. When the coyotes in the canyon began to call after sunset, these turkeys shone floodlights on them and hooted and imitated coyote calls. Predictably, that put an abrupt end to the coyote serenade. For giggles, they rode their ATVs back and forth over the 150 feet between their campsite and a vault toilet, stirring up dust that blew into everyone else’s campsites. After a couple of nights, all the beautiful geology, and fascinating flora and fauna in the world couldn’t keep me there another minute, so I packed up and left. I guess that’s one of the good things to be said about living out of a van – if you don’t like the neighbours, you can pack up and be gone within minutes – and I’ve done just that a couple of times during this trip.

Was it fun? That’s another one of those difficult questions. Since Don’s death, I’ve had a pretty hard time having fun in the usual sense of the word. The friend who traveled with me for three weeks knows me very well and says I’ve changed a lot – that it’s actually painful to see what the past couple of years have done to me. I knew that already, so it wasn’t really news, but interesting to hear someone say they’d noticed. That said, the traveling seems to have been good for me. I’m still dealing with a lot of anger over Don’s illness and death. Not anger over being left alone, or of having to deal with life on my own now. I think I’ve pretty much come to terms with all of that and am managing well – perhaps better than most people would in my position. No, this is something different. I still harbor a very intense and raw anger over the cruelty of cancer and what it did to to my best friend – a gentle person of uncommon kindness. And then there’s the more subtle after effects of the ordeal. Just the sound of a certain kind of cough, a fleeting glimpse of Boost in a grocery store aisle, an empty courtesy wheelchair in a store, any air suction noise that mimics that of a ventilator, buzzers that sound like warning alarms on life support monitors, cancer-emaciated movie stars on magazine covers, or the taste of fresh strawberries like I used to make high-protein smoothies for Don each morning…. All of these and more are now triggers to set spinning the stone that grinds yet another raw edge on nerves that have endured too much..

Traveling seems to have provided the best option for healing. If I’d stayed at the farm, I’d have been pacing my cage in a place where I felt little or no connection. Here on the road, there are so many new and unpredictable experiences each day, that it’s practically impossible to sustain any emotion, especially anger, for more than a few moments at a time. Driving the van requires at least some level of dumb concentration. In fact, to me, it seems almost a form of meditation. Exploring new areas brings constant change – maybe not a “fun” kind of change, but the kind where I can feel wonder at the geology of a place, or at the tremendous mass of a sequoia, or the raw power of waves crashing against sea stacks. Cactus wrens perching on the van’s roof racks to study me while I cook breakfast, or ravens flying over my campsite as they utter musical cronkings amid a whoosh of wingbeats, put small cracks in the hardness of my veneer. These moments don’t quite register as “happy”, but they’re pleasing at some deeper level where they manage to sop up some of the anger and make it easier for me to feel less troubled for awhile.

Over the space of three months, it feels like there’s been some change in how I feel. And when I compare myself to last year, doing much the same route, I realize that I’m in a very different place now. Last year, everything was an incredible struggle and left little mental space for observation. I was still dealing with a horrific amount of mental pain and physical exhaustion, while also attempting to do things I’d never tried before – like driving across Canada and down through the U.S. alone with Sabrina, who wasn’t doing too well either at the time. I wasn’t accustomed to driving on busy freeways, and yet here I am a year later, feeling “at home” rolling along in the midst of a pack of speeding trucks and commuters on 99 in the Central Valley, or on I-5 just north of L.A. In that respect, I’m light years from where I was a year ago. It’s true that I’ve become increasingly strong, confident and capable — but it’s just as true that the anger remains – and that’s the hard one. It burns as hotly as ever deep inside of me, like an unseen sun, whirling as it prepares to go supernova. What to do about that? It may be that the only thing that will make that feeling ebb is to give it time to burn down into glowing coals. Ten years later and the embers of a similar anger over my father’s death from cancer still occasionally crackle in some dark corner of my mind – a place reserved for the kind of pain and anger that never entirely vanishes. But for now, I just carry on and hope that some day I will be in a different place than where I am now. The traveling seems to play some part in all of this – helping to keep me going while everything gradually sorts itself out.

And so, I’ve returned to Bisbee. It has felt like a homecoming of sorts. I chose to camp at a few favourite spots in the nearby mountains on the final nights before I settled down for the winter. As I approached, familiar ranges loomed up to welcome me — the Whetstones, Mustangs, Dragoons, Huachucas, and finally the Mules. For now, it seems that I’m home.

Written by bev on November 30th, 2009

27 Responses to 'somewhere, a fire still burns'

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  1. A belated happy birthday, bev. I wished you one day early and I wished you one day late. Ah, time is such a tricky thing. I woke this morning, remembered it had been your birthday and thought Roger and I should have made you a birthday video like we did for Don. Oh how we loved singing that for him. Next year…

    I’m glad you wrote this down. This is the truth behind all the other posts, the Bev who sees the road and the campsites, the wren and raven, grieves the loss of her loves.

    I have a similar wrenching anger about cancer. Loved and cherished family members plucked one by one by this scourge.

    robin andrea

    30 Nov 09 at 2:42 pm

  2. robin – thanks! Yes, that birthday video for Don was terrific and he got a lot of enjoyment watching it. Yes, this is the truth that underlies all that I write. It’s easy enough to write about the good side of life, but less simple to explain how it really feels. When reading the writings of cancer survivors and their families and friends, there is very often an expression of the burning anger at the disease. Seems to go with the territory.

    bev

    30 Nov 09 at 3:08 pm

  3. This is a difficult post to respond to Bev, not because of what you’re sharing, but because (although we’ve known no other conversation but through comments on a blog) it is easier to say things in person.

    There were two things I didn’t want to hear when Janice died. One was “Is there anything I can do?” because quite simply the one thing I wanted no one could do for me. The other was “In time it will get easier.” in part, because I didn’t want it to get better, I wanted the pain there all the time. I used to do things that would bubble it back to the surface.

    In part it was because I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe that it would ease. But the fact was, it did. It still is there, but it isn’t over powering.

    Thankfully, for me, the anger didn’t take hold. I was angry that someone that looked after themselves as well as Janice could get sick so young. No one looked after themselves better than she did. But I also knew that her mom died of the same cancer 15 years younger than Janice, and I realized that perhaps her looking after herself gave her those fifteen years. Fifteen years that included our meeting, falling in love, marrying, and being together. Nine years I may not have had otherwise.

    I also might have been prepared because of what I did for a living. I knew that bad things happened to good people but they also happen to bad people, and everyone in between. Death comes to all of us, sometimes early, sometimes late, sometimes because of some unknown genetic/environmental quirk that was waiting for us always, sometimes because of bad luck or bad choices. I know that death didn’t come to Janice because she was good, it came to her because of some freaky gene, same as it came to her mom.

    I miss her, I think about her every day, but I know I’m a very lucky man because I had her in my life, and because I found love again. Many people don’t find great love in their life at all.

    I won’t pretend to know all of what you feel/felt. But I have a good idea about some of it. I don’t know what will work for you, be it travel, writing or whatever. I know what seems to work for me, rituals on the special days/anniversaries etc (even when they bubble that pain to the surface for awhile) and living my life the only way I know how, how I’ve always lived it.

    Best of luck in all of your journeys.

    Clare

    30 Nov 09 at 5:17 pm

  4. I can relate all too well to the anger Bev- and although my disease isn’t cancer, it’s treated as such and I’ve lost many loved ones to that disease myself. It’s difficult at best to be angry with a disease, it’s a struggle that I’ve never quite learned how to put into words, and quite honestly gave up even trying to do so some time ago because the feelings are just too damn raw.
    I could go on about this, but I won’t. I can only say that despite it all, you still continue to put one foot in front of the other, moving forward even on the days where I’m sure it probably doesn’t feel that way. Everyone handles grief, anger, etc differently and you’re doing the best you can. That’s all any of us can do.
    Belated happy birthday wishes to you and I truly hope you find peace in the solace of the desert and all that it holds. Wishing you and ‘the girls’ the best always as you continue on your journey, you’re in my thoughts.

    Cindy

    30 Nov 09 at 7:00 pm

  5. Clare – Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yes, it’s very difficult to put these thoughts into written words and have it come out right. In part, that’s why I so rarely make that attempt. I know that you must have had many experiences similar to my own during Janice’s illness. Each time I hear of someone else in the same position, I wish them strength, as it takes so much out of you, and casts you adrift when the inevitable finally comes. I believe you’re right about your past experience helping you deal with things. In many ways, I feel that my dad’s illness and death taught me some important lessons that have helped me to deal with Don’s death. I remember having a hard time believing that I could get over his death. Also, I kept my father’s business going for a couple of years, doing everything exactly as he had. Reflecting on this, I think it was almost a crazy variation of cargo cult magical thinking where, I could just keep everything going, everything would be okay and maybe even be like it used to be. When Don died, I already understood that trying to keep things as they were would not really accomplish much. That’s why I found it easier to move forward. As for the anger, I think it will gradually die down over time. However, the one thing the cancer has robbed me of, because I’ve just seen too much of it, is the sense of security and stability that I think most people feel, even if it isn’t a reality. I have a hard time believing that anything will last. Maybe that’s part of what makes me angry – that loss of believing that things can be alright, even if it is just for awhile. Complex stuff. I try not to dwell on it too much. In some ways, maybe it’s just better to keep on keeping on. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Clare. It is much appreciated.

    bev

    30 Nov 09 at 7:40 pm

  6. Cindy – Thanks. You’ve been through a lot and can probably identify with the anger part. I try not to let it rule as it doesn’t really get me anywhere. It seems that being out in the wild places is the best way to reconnect with what matters. There’s something about the desert that makes that a little easier. Many people think of the desert as a dry, empty place, but it is anything but that. It’s a good place to go when you need room to think.

    bev

    30 Nov 09 at 7:48 pm

  7. Thank you for sharing this Bev. I cannot imagine your pain and anger as I have never experienced loss like this. Perhaps I will sometime. I feel inadequate trying to talk with people who have suffered greatly and all I can do is listen to them. You have helped me understand (so eloquently) what grieving means. Wishing you healing and peace as time goes on.

    Ruth

    30 Nov 09 at 9:30 pm

  8. As you know, we set off across the continent in 1985 as unparents, and it completely changed the character of that year and more on the road. It’s a long slow recovery from this kind of loss, though ours had been more abrupt and not as exhausting as yours. I hope you don’t let your anger close you off from the outcome analogous to that which we found, if a possibility for that is what you come across.

    fred

    30 Nov 09 at 9:41 pm

  9. Ruth – I always feel badly when I hear of others going through what Don and I went through during his illness. It’s very hard on both the person with the illness, and on anyone who is close. It’s hard to go on alone after. Listening is probably the best thing one can do for someone who has experienced a loss similar to mine. It seems that many people try to avoid talking about illness and loss – perhaps because they don’t know what to say.
    -
    fred – I often think of your trip across the continent. It was probably the best thing that you could have done at the time. I agree that recovery is a long, slow process – much longer than most people realize. While it’s true that I’m living with a lot of anger, I try not to let it control my thoughts and actions. As mentioned in my comment to Clare, I think the worst impact that all of this cancer has had on my life is to remove my ability to believe in any kind of future. I think that’s a pretty common response. I’m not sure how possible it is to get beyond that way of thinking. Well, I guess we’ll see.

    bev

    30 Nov 09 at 11:22 pm

  10. Bev, I am at once heartbroken and awestruck to read of your experiences in dealing with the horrors of cancer and its devastating outcome. I’ve never had to deal with the finality of the worst kind of cancer, the kind that robs us of the life of someone we love. My wife’s breast cancer was a horrific experience, but she survived. Had she not, I’m not sure I could have dealt with it, or if I could have done, how. Your ability to recognize and articulate how you’ve been able to respond to your experiences is amazing, both in the telling and in the experience itself. I hope your time in Bisbee helps ease the anger and gives you some rest from the torment that accompanies such a devastating loss as you’ve had to deal with. Reading your words makes me realize that my worst days give me no legitimate reason to complain; I hope your days grow better with every sunrise.

    John

    30 Nov 09 at 11:36 pm

  11. Bev, a belated happy birthday from a fellow Sagittarian – and thank you for sharing your pain and thoughts. I, too, harbour a lot of anger about cancer after seeing what it did to my mother. She was in the hospice for the last three months and that was the most difficult time for me, because I watched a strong, fiercely independent, outgoing woman diminish day by day, emotionally and in stature. Not able to fend for herself for the first time in her adult life, an entirely new concept, she was profoundly disappointed that she lingered so long. I really hate what this disease does to people.

    I’m glad that you’ve been able to lose yourself in the beauty of nature, and in your photography and writing. All three of these have saved me countless times, especially the latter. In fact, I just completed my first 30-day novel challenge and I’m sure that my Mom had a hand in it.

    I’m also glad to know that the three of you have arrived safe and sound in Bisbee.

    Marni

    1 Dec 09 at 10:42 am

  12. Isn’t it odd to be angry at a disease (or a collection of diseases with the same name)? I haven’t lost anyone to cancer in my immediate family – my wife is a colon cancer survivor, but her mother died from lung cancer. My direct, personal experiences with death from cancer have been with my dogs. I have lost three to cancer, and anger is exactly what I feel. Anger and hatred. I guess it’s from a need to find someone or some thing to blame.

    A natural, human emotion, I’m sure, but I don’t suppose it’s very productive.

    In the meantime, what the hell.

    Mark

    1 Dec 09 at 2:10 pm

  13. [...] Journey to the Center Traveling seems to have provided the best option for healing. If I’d stayed at the farm, I’d have been pacing my cage in a place where I felt little or no connection. Here on the road, there are so many new and unpredictable experiences each day, that it’s practically impossible to sustain any emotion, especially anger, for more than a few moments at a time. Driving the van requires at least some level of dumb concentration. In fact, to me, it seems almost a form of meditation. —- This entry was posted Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 at 5:08 pm and is filed under Smorgasblog.  Print [...]

    Via Negativa

    1 Dec 09 at 5:08 pm

  14. John – Thanks for what I know is a very heartfelt comment. I do think that being here in this town has been and is helpful to me in getting beyond some of the baggage I’m still carrying around as a result of Don’s illness and death. It’s pretty hard stuff to deal with. It’s good to know there are people who care.
    -
    Marni – I’m sure that your experience with your mom is probably quite similar to mine with Don. The whole ordeal leaves the survivor feeling drained and angry. From my days spent reading and writing on online cancer forums, I know that anger is about the most common emotion that everyone writes about. I don’t think you can go through the whole process without developing a pretty strong hatred for what the disease does to people. I’m glad you’re finding some peace and healing through writing and photography. Let me know how things go with the novel that you wrote.
    -
    Mark – The feeling of hatred and anger probably isn’t logical, but it’s certainly there. My father and Don’s father both died of kidney cancer, Don from lung cancer (and he never smoked), and we lost a dog to bone cancer, and two dogs to some weird and highly aggressive form of lymphosarcoma within 8 weeks of each other – the top veterinary oncologist in the city took our case and said she’d never seen anything like this before in her career. Three years ago, I had to have fairly major surgery for a condition that almost always turns into cancer. I’m sick of cancer. I hate it and I wish it would leave me and everyone I know alone. I’ve gotten so that I even hate seeing the word on magazines at grocery store checkouts. I know – totally irrational, but I can’t help it. Now, I just try to find peace wherever I can.
    -
    Dave – Thanks for the shout out on the Via Negativa Smorgasblog.

    bev

    1 Dec 09 at 8:48 pm

  15. Bev – this post as reflection pulls together a lot that you’ve said in bits and pieces over the last two years. I’m really glad you wrote it.

    It is difficult to respond to for someone who hasn’t gone through something like this. In the last couple of weeks my mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so I particularly appreciate what you’ve written.

    I also appreciate those who have replied. The comments have special merit, I thihk.

    Wayne

    2 Dec 09 at 8:09 am

  16. Wayne – I’m sorry to read about your mother. Alzheimer’s is another of those diseases that is incredibly hard on the family and friends of the person who receives the diagnosis.
    I too appreciate all of the comments that have been posted above. So many other voices describing how they have dealt with situations similar to what Don and I went through. There is much we can all learn from this kind of discussion.

    bev

    2 Dec 09 at 9:45 am

  17. There is a balance between the photos and writings from your extended travels and this post about your inner journey through grief and mourning. All of it speaks to me of the presence of love. Even the anger. When our sense of security is lost, what is gained is an experience that can be shared with others, including those who no longer have that security either. Love is stronger than death.
    Thank you for telling this part of your story, bev.

    It’s good to know that you and Sabrina and Sage made to it to Bisbee safely and that it feels like home. It was unusually clear here in the coastal Pacific Northwest last night. Everything was lit by full moon light. Made me think of the desert when I looked out at 5 a.m. this morning.

    am

    2 Dec 09 at 6:42 pm

  18. I don’t know what to say Bev, but that I wish you well.

    The questioning and introspection and resultant growth or change may just be the point of all the pain.

    (that’s what i like to tell myself to quiet my own gremlins, at least)

    Robin Andrea’s comment rings really true to me… that this post is the truth behind all the rest of your writings… I hope that putting it to words let you sense the real power of your love for Don and your Dad.

    Laura

    2 Dec 09 at 10:06 pm

  19. of course, cancer is the symptom: it’s the chemically and ecologically indifferent social structures which are the disease.

    fred

    3 Dec 09 at 6:57 pm

  20. am – I believe there is the balance which you’ve defined. All the time while traveling, I’m aware of a fragile “center” where all of my thoughts and emotions come together to maintain some kind of coping state that keeps me going. There’s a sort of public and private side to all that I do, and my writing tends to reflect that dichotomy, but also unite those sides at times. Interesting what you have written about the moonlight. After spending time in the desert, I’ve since found that moonlit nights in the north over snow, or in forests in the east and west, often make me think of the stillness and serenity of the desert.
    -
    Laura – There’s definitely something to be said about the growth that comes out of grief. While, on the one hand, it seems to damage, it also creates new avenues to change and grow.
    -
    fred – Oh, for sure. I very much agree with your statement. It seems to me that cancer has become one of the markers of our time.

    bev

    4 Dec 09 at 11:17 am

  21. The honesty and generosity of your post leaves me speechless Bev. I can’t start to express all my gratitude for you writing that down, posting it, for us to read. My partner of 14 years has liver cirrhosis and bladder cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange thirty some years ago, when he was a Navy corpsman in Vietnam. So, many things in your post I can relate to. The only thing I know is that, the life forces that make me angry are also the ones that make me driven, elated, in other circumstances. It is because we feel, because we love, because we are alive, that we can feel anger. And because of that, I have come to accept my anger, and befriend it, like I welcome joy. They are both my love for him. They are both my link to him, my way to feel all that I need to feel. And my way to hold on to him, for now, and beyond.

    Suzanne

    5 Dec 09 at 5:11 pm

  22. Suzanne – Thanks very much for leaving this comment and sharing some of your thoughts. There’s something about this anger that is very much tied to the energy that keeps me going, and writing, creating… It’s all related. I too accept my anger as it is just part of the whole experience of losing someone and then find a way of carrying on – and you’re quite right – it’s all part of the love that we feel – the link to the person we care about. I wish you well in your own journey as I know it must be difficult.

    bev

    6 Dec 09 at 10:11 pm

  23. Dear Bev,

    Beautiful Bev.

    Courageous Bev.

    Fierce Bev.

    Don’s Bev.

    Bev who shares my birthday.

    Bev whose writing quickens my pulse with its heart-throwing flames.

    Sending you a tender hug,

    Sending you Love,

    Cathy

    Cathy Wilson

    8 Jan 10 at 6:42 pm

  24. [...] sadness and distress of last year has gradually morphed into something else. Even the fairly intense anger that I have lived with for months seems to be giving way to some other state of mind. I’ve [...]

  25. Cathy – I was thinking of you on “our” birthday and almost sent you a note. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t but maybe just couldn’t muster … something. Well, you probably know what I mean. Sending you love too. – bev

    bev

    12 Jan 10 at 12:03 am

  26. Bev, thank you for directing me to your post. It speaks so clearly of the anger I also feel about cancer. It has such a far reaching force of destruction. As you know, it takes down more than the person diagnosed. I still sit her stunned, not only because my spouse Michael is gone, but so is my plight to keep him alive. So much of my life for the past two years was about finding the next medical trail, or next chemo.

    At this point, as you pointed out, I am far to early in my grief to do anything but feel overwhelmed. But as the hard drive on my computer reminds me, I have now become an expert in brain tumor treatment. At some point I will choose to use my experience to help others face with this. For now, I am trying to heal, and trying to regain some of my joy.
    My children constantly stare at me when I am lost in thought. I can tell they mourn the person I used to be. For this reason I do need to find balance.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and I loved reading of your travel.

    Dan

    Dan

    13 Jan 10 at 3:20 am

  27. Dan – I’m glad that you found your way here. You’re so right about how cancer changes us – and the effect it has on those who are left behind when it claims another life. After my dad’s death from kidney cancer, I was left feeling like a soldier who had been carrying his buddy home from behind enemy lines, only to find myself alone when he died. The same happened again with Don – the people who love and care for their partners, family or good friends, are warriors – and when the battle is over, we are left feeling shell-shocked and damaged. That after effect can persist for a very long time. Your mention of your hard drive being filled with information on brain tumors reminds me of my own constant search for new information, treatments, clinical trials, etc.. during Don’s illness. I became very involved on a couple of lung cancer forums and, from time to time, I return to one of them to update some information archives to assist others who are carrying on this battle – which reminds me that I should do that sometime soon. I know what you mean about your children mourning the person you used to be. As mentioned in the above post, my closest friend has told me that I’m not the same person as before – I’m sadder and often have trouble concentrating on what is going on around me – yes, lost in thought, is a good way of putting it. However, believe me when I say that, over time, those feelings will gradually change. I know this from caring for and losing my father, and at what is now 16 months after losing Don (almost can’t believe it is that long!), I know I’m feeling a little different now. But it’s a very weird and difficult process. I’ve gone through at least three prolonged periods of anger and fury. I’m hoping that the last one which occurred for a few weeks before the above post, will have been the last as such intense anger is exhausting and, by and large, not a particularly useful state of mind unless you’re able to find a way to channel all of the rage and use it for something productive — which is how I used it last summer when getting my farm ready to sell. Do try to find the things that bring you even the smallest joy – for me, I find those times when I’m sitting by rivers watching surface patterns, walking or playing with my dogs, or out photographing wildlife. Each of us has our own places and activities that bring us peace. At first, you may find it hard to stick with anything for more than a few minutes – that’s how it was with me – but keep trying and after awhile, you’ll probably find those minutes stretching out into longer periods of enjoyment. The trick is in finding what will work for you. Take care, Bev

    bev

    13 Jan 10 at 10:27 am

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