I want to honor my cousin who so very graciously talked about my giving her mother, Aunt Ro, Divine Light before she died. Actually, my aunt went into remission for several years after but felt the Light hadn’t worked for her because she continued to smoke cigarettes. My Aunt Ro had breast cancer and didn’t tell us until it had matasisized. My understanding was that she was ready to go and no way in hell was she going to do chemo. It’s hard for the people who love you to understand how you can be willing to let go when, if you were just willing to endure chemo, you could be around for many more years.
I don’t know how light-hearted this post will be. It does, however, have a happy ending. I’m going to try to explain it from my point of view. I don’t know if my aunt would agree with everything I am going to say, but at least there will be one point of view from this side of the fence. The difference between us is that I didn’t have any children.
At 50 years of age, my values shifted. I was aware that I was going to die in a finite period of time, that I was no longer bulletproof. It was a matter of how long and how. As someone who is on a spiritual path and has been for over 30 years, I believe in the existence of a soul. This life I’m living now is only one of many. Since I believe in God, I believe that I no matter where I go, my soul will always be in God’s Care. Please don’t confuse this with ‘I am always with God.’ More accurate would be to say that God is always with me. I do my best to be with God, but I don’t promise that I’m even close. My job is to try.
But living in this physical dimension forever has never interested me. When my Aunt Dot turned 95, the aunt who astonishingly encouraged me to divorce my husband (Aunt Dot was married forever), I asked her if she was going to have a party. “Honey? Who the hell am I going to invite? All of my friends are dead!” “Aunt Dot, do you like being this age?” “I really don’t, Susan. I am bored, and I miss your Uncle John!” Fifty-one weeks later she died of congestive heart failure.
There are two things that scare me: 1. Being bored and being unable to do anything about it; 2. Being held against my will.
I can’t stand not to be active. In addition, two of my friends in their early seventies have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzhiemer’s. It makes no sense to me to struggle to live long enough to get something in addition to or instead of cancer. And chemo can cause blindness and autoimmune diseases. It’s one of the most barbaric things I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve been held at gunpoint for hours hoping just to live through it.
Not being able to take care of yourself puts you at the mercy of your caretakers. That is not acceptable to me. My goal has always been to live to 75 so that I could start smoking cigarettes, marijuana, eat cheesecake at will, not exercise, and not keep up with technology. Anything beyond 75 is suspect to me, and I sure don’t want to have to do what others tell me to sustain it.
At 66, I’m nearing the home stretch, just now being able to let go of so many ideas about how life was supposed to be lived so that I can live my truth (really and truly, my truth includes tobacco and cheesecake. Oh, and hard liquor.)
And being brought up in a life of violence takes its toll. It seems sometimes that I’ve spent most of my life trying to overcome that. My mother told me stories about their childhood. My aunt and my mother did everything they could to make our lives better than theirs was – their father died of severe alcoholism, and I don’t know about my cousins, but my siblings and I tortured our mother. Not on purpose, of course, but we were bright, bratty kids who challenged her at every turn. My mother’s doctor occasionally sent my mother to the hospital for a week just so she could get a chance to breathe and to hear inside her own brain.
I’m ready for a break from the struggles, and at 66 I’m finally beginning to let that go. There’s nothing left to prove. Now there’s the enjoyment that comes from looking back at your successes and seeing what you want to do next. There aren’t a lot of ‘have tos’ or people depending on you. Chemo was really going to mess that up for me, so I decided to pursue other avenues with the awareness that it might be time to go no matter what I do, but at least I could be healthy and happy. I am both.