A parishioner died yesterday. She had wanted to; she didn't want to be in a nursing home waiting for death, with no hope for change, no hope for health. A parishioner's sister in law died this week, she was 40, had battled cancer all her life. A parishioner's mother died two weeks ago. It's a long, dark Advent.
I am feeling old. I am glimpsing what old age may be like. I am tired almost all the time. I have awful pain from time to time. I can't tell if it's lessening or not.
I love traveling the world. I love visiting other cultures. On my trip to Mongolia, I had the sense I was a tourist, not a traveler. It was much like watching it on TV, not being in the country. It was because, I think, I was on a tour and interacted more with other Americans on the tour rather than interacting with Mongolians.
To some extent, my journey with cancer has been like the trip to Mongolia. I haven't really experienced it. I don't know whether it is denial or something else. The fact that my prognosis is quite good and I don't face never ending treatment may be a part of it. I feel as if there is some great truth, some great shift in my life that should come from the cancer. It hasn't happened yet.
The current journey, the one through death, doesn't feel like a TV journey. The parishioner was a woman I loved, I enjoyed being with. I will miss her. I am beginning to see death more clearly. It is final. It is permanent. It is unavoidable. It is. Perhaps I feel this more keenly because of my experience with cancer (I am not immune; I am not immortal; I am finite; I am fragile), but I'm not sure. I realize this sounds like a contradiction from the previous paragraph but it feels true to me.
It is sunny and cold today. I love the sun, on this the day of the year with the least sun. The sun returns. Life goes on; not on an individual level, but life continues. It is good.