Friday, March 8, 2013

Farewell, Beautiful Soul

The lengthy excerpt below from today's New Old Age blog in the New York Times speaks to what one of my dearest friends is experiencing right now.

Around three years ago, her dearest friend (I will call her Beautiful Soul for privacy reasons) was diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer, and began Hospice Care at home at the end of 2012. Beautiful Soul left us two nights ago, and my dear friend is in the throes of that loss.

My friend and Beautiful Soul created a very special world in preparation for Beautiful Soul's passing, and I know for sure that as this blogger says below, there was "a sense of ceremony and intimacy, suffused with honor" when it happened.

View of the Pacific at La Piedra
At La Piedra, by Liza Bernstein
I hope my dear friend, somewhere down the line, after the tsunami of extreme grief has ebbed, flowed, and receded again, will find that sense of peace and acceptance, despite the unbearable pain of loss.

Knowing her, she will. But at what cost?

Again, Advanced Breast Cancer, Metastatic Breast Cancer, Stage IV Breast Cancer -- there is no cure, it is the cancer that kills and takes our loved ones from us. It takes them young, it takes them old. It doesn't discriminate. And yes, we may experience and learn important life lessons and wisdom and growth and so forth when we are there with them side by side.... but I'm feeling selfish. I don't want any more of these life lessons, I am enraged that my dear friend (and all others like her) has to experience this unspeakable suffering of the heart and soul.

I send her and all like her my deepest love and comfort.

May Beautiful Soul rest in peace.

Here's the excerpt:

After Caregiving, Comfort in Having Helped
On the day of her death, Mom’s grandchildren came in, one by one, to bid her farewell. My brother, sister and I held her hand. I had a sense of ceremony and intimacy, suffused with honor. The honor came from acknowledging Mom’s long, hard journey, and from facing things squarely, encountering what it means to be human, in extremity.
A year later, on the anniversary of her death, I stood on a bridge crossing the Chicago River and had an extraordinary sense of time both collapsing and stretching into infinity all at once. It was a warm, sunny day, the water gleamed bright below and I felt Mom with me, amid all the beauty. 
In the end, I was not left with the loss I had dreaded so much. What I felt was a sense of fullness, uncolored by fear. 
I tell you this because during years of struggle, this may not seem possible, this sense of knowing you stood your ground with love and honor, this deep acceptance of all you did and left undone. But it is, and knowing this is one of the insights that followed my years of caregiving, which informs all the work I do here.