“I’d be afraid of the pain.”

“I’d be afraid of the pain.”

Thats what my friend from support group said, when we talked about getting spiritual guidance. She was worried about the pain.

Surprisingly, I hadn’t even considered the pain that could come from a death by cancer. Especially surprising given that I’ve been dealing with a not insignificant amount of pain the last month. Not enjoying it either.

In general, I feel mostly at peace with the idea of dying. Sometimes I wonder if I am too resigned to the idea. I am kind of a realist, so I feel it is important for me to accept what is happening – I have cancer. It will kill me eventually. But at the same time, I feel positively enough about my life that I’m not rushing to meet death. I want to milk the time I have for all it is worth.

Some days the pain makes that difficult. Tuesday was a bad day. I started taking painkillers soon after waking up, but never quite caught up with the pain. I went to my other support group that day and just felt pitiful and sorry for myself.

The days since have been much better. My inlaws have been visiting and I’ve found their companionship to be both enjoyable and comforting – much more than I ever would have expected.

I haven’t done much creative work this week, visitors and all, but it seems like I’m starting to get out of my emotional funk, and that feels terrific.

After reading a blog post about solo hiking today, I spent a smidgen of time feeling sorry for myself that I won’t be able to hike the PCT, and instead started planning where I’ll take my inlaws tomorrow for a picnic lunch. My body won’t let me do all I want to do, but it can’t stop me from getting out there. Not yet.

I’m still not bothered by the idea of a painful death. Maybe I have faith in the state of palliative care. Maybe I just like to ignore the idea. My main worries about dying lie not in the process I’ll experience, but with those I’ll leave behind. I continue to grieve for my kids and for not being able to be the mom I always thought I’d be – one like my mother, always there to support her kids, no matter how grown up they are.

Maybe I should look into some spiritual guidance in that area after all.


5 thoughts on ““I’d be afraid of the pain.”

  1. Lisa, a pastor I work with was just diagnosed with 4th stage lymphoma. His blog is http://tamedcynic.org/. I have been posting them on facebook, but in case you’d like to read them. He is very blunt and honest (and funny, laughter and tears every time I read them, especially 50 shades of humilation).

  2. Lisa,

    I just visited your mom on Friday up in Arcata. I was reminded, as I always am when I see her, of what a remarkable person she is. I wish we could get together a little more often than we do, but I will rejoice in what I can get. Your loving reference to her in this post is so beautiful, yet poignent.

    I don’t know if you know that my mother died of bone cancer when I was 7. She first became ill when I was 5. In those days it was common not to inform someone that they were going to die, and so no one ever told her. I heard my father telling someone about it and tried to convince myself surely it wasn’t true. I must have misunderstood. Nope.

    My dad was definitely not a modern dad, but typical for the day. He had no choice but to keep working full time and see her during most of the time left over. Which brought up the issue of what to do with me. After failing with a number of housekeeper/babysitter types, he put me in a boarding school about 80 miles away and I saw him very little for the next 3 years.

    The headmistress of the boarding school called me to her office one day and told me my mother had died, which meant she had gone to heaven and was never coming back. Oh, and my dog had died a week later. What a coincidence! It was okay to cry as much as I wanted. She hugged me and told me to come see her if I had any questions. It was understood that my father wasn’t supposed to be asked about it as it was “too traumatic” for him to relive. Until his death when I was 29, I never had the courage to bring it up.

    The point I want to make is that in your anguish about not being there for your kids, please know that they are so fortunate to have you really be there with them and for them through this time. Your example of strength and grace and openess to embrace all of life while it is here is such an incredible example that will profoundly affect their lives. The honesty that you have demonstrated will surely enrich how they approach their own lives. The courage to not only face the truth but deal with it and generously share what you are learning is a priceless gift to them as they proceed down their own paths.

    My love to you and your family. You are just as special as your precious mom.

    Lynn (Lester)


  3. Dearest daughter – You know that I will there with you in any way you want. Mom; mom nurse; nurse mom. You can count me in for everything. Lynn says it all so well. You are a gift to all of us.

  4. I was very ill this summer with pneumonia and faced the very real possibility of death. It was in no way equal to what you are experiencing, but I did learn a few things: One way of looking at pain–you know you are still alive.

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