Tag Archive: Healing


I’ve spent the last several months trying to come to terms with Bill’s death.  And when I say this, I don’t mean his death alone, but the complexities of our former time together, how things ended, my behavior, his behavior, our separate paths and what might have been a good pairing of friends, his decision to end his life, the method he chose, his last postings, Facebook, how networking sites function to superficially bridge gaps, etc, etc, etc.  

My textual artifact is the suicide note; my last assignment involved another textual artifact pertaining to suicide and my first assignment was no less cheery.  In all of this, I had spiraled into a functioning depression; struggling to reconcile so much without anyone to talk with who really knew anything about Bill.  

Somehow this mattered to me.  I process through talking and in this case, I just couldn’t find my voice.  In finishing up this final project, I feel like I am finally letting go of everything Bill has represented in my life.  There were wonderful warm feelings, but there was also a lot of regret and wishing I could have ended things with more maturity or handled my life at that stage with greater dignity.  I’ve found myself obsessing over it – night after night of dreams filled with visions from the past, but with no sure way of venting my feelings other than to funnel this process into my schoolwork.  

I’m really fortunate to have patient friends and family.  Though Erick wasn’t around and only met Bill once in passing, he’s been a good support.  He can’t speak to who I was, but he’s wonderful about reminding me who I have become.  And in winding up the semester, and with spring offering a gentle nudge, I’m finding the strength of character to let go of the past and to move on.  

I’ve finally come to accept that Bill may truly have gone to his grave not liking me very much and this was really, truly hard for my ego to acknowledge.  At the same time, it’s so like Bill and that was one thing I loved about him.  I’ll not let go of the positive memories I have of our time together, but the grieving has ended and is being replaced with a renewed sense of responsiblity to those I love.

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Yesterday, the bat kept flying into my life.  When the bat flies into your life, it is a signal it is time to bury some old part of yourself that has long ago died, but you have continued to carry.  Last night I was thinking about a time in my life when I was homeless and sleeping on a stiff bench in the Art Department building on campus.  I remember waking up to a class beginning and concerned students leaning over curiously poking at my arm.  The not knowing what will happen day-to-day is exhausting.  

That moment reflects a period of my life when I was filled with a sort of listless wanderlust.  Wanderlust minus destination and purpose.  At the time, I couldn’t afford an apartment of my own and had seriously irked my parents over something.  

A week into my ordeal, my now-husband invited me to Nashville and I quit school and headed down south for a few months.  When I returned, I was offered a beautiful place to live rent-free, which I immediately and shamelessly accepted.   I felt enormous gratitude, but I was still without purpose and a constant thorn in everyone’s side.

In a very real way, I didn’t “grow up” until I got married and settled with my husband into a home of our own.  Our marriage, though rocky in the beginning, offered the kind of security I hadn’t felt before.  And as we began having children, I slowly began to explore my purpose on this planet.  Over the last ten years I have shed my old skin (or killed off cells with chemo), and now it is time to bury that part of me without direction, without hope.  

Partly, this moment is inspired by the election, but I also believe some internal cycle ended long ago was carried along unnecessarily in the form of guilt or shame or an unwillingness to connect with the people of my past.  At this point in my life, though much remains uncertain, I am filled with gratitude and a feeling of hope that accompanies each new, promising hint of change emerging daily.  I feel much like the butterfly bush whose old-growth skeleton as the new shoots come up through and flower.  I have weeded out those branches that no longer serve my purpose for growth.

Yesterday I met with Dr. K, my oncologist. He’s my hero for not only was he mindful of my treatments and care, but he was always careful to remember things about me as a person first, patient second. His honesty could be brutal at times, but this I value still for it allowed me to forgo unnecessary worry.

After my blood-work, in which they found a vein successfully the first poke (and in my arm)! I talked with Dr. K about how I’ve been feeling and what lay ahead. I told him I’ve been well and he checked me for the usual lumps and bumps and listened to my heart and lungs and then smiled his broad smile and said everything looks as good as I feel. We talked about my plan of action once I move down to NC and then he shook my hand and said, “Goodbye and good luck to you.”

I thanked him, but it didn’t seem enough just to say thank-you when the person standing across from you has saved your life. And yet, I know he knows how grateful I am for all he has done. When he asked about my heart, I retorted, “Have you considered cardiology as a side career?”

Yesterday was about more than Dr. K. It was about walking away without scheduling another scan. It was the certainty with which Dr. K said “No” when the nurse inquired about a CT scan for January. It was like I had been set free and my life lay ahead of me in long beautiful years that stretched out infinitely. For a moment, I forgot about vulnerability and disease.

Yesterday I said things like, “I feel good.” “I’m well.” “No night sweats, no fatigue.” “I can run and it feels great.” And when Dr. K asked whether I “felt like I had returned to all normal day to day activities,” I happily answered YES! And then some.

I know I’ll never completely let go of this experience. There is a scar still visible to the naked eye and medication I now rely on to some degree and there are times when I must just let myself cry. Along this path, I’ve met and loved some remarkable people who unfortunately succumbed to this disease and even a part of me and who I was fell away as I continued on along my own path. So, in that sense, I still grieve. At the same time, I celebrate each small victory in my return to normalcy.

I will always remember the kindness others bestowed upon me, often by strangers united by the same cause; to beat this disease not with drugs, but with love, compassion, patience and attitude. No matter what happens moving forward, I/We have won over cancer.

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Photo by Dianna McPhail 

…at Healing Tree Farm!