Wednesday, April 01, 2009


string of nows

I know you want to fight to live. When I first told you about your cancer and that it was going to be a really tough road, you said you were going to fight with all your strength. You did. All the doctors tried. We gave you chemo and radiation and pulled you back from the edge when things looked rough. But from the beginning the cancer was tough and despite your fight and your strength and our ray guns and our poisons, the cancer progressed. And now it is all through you, and you are too weak to take our treatments. You want to fight, you are eager to live. You have not had enough. But we have nothing else to try.

So instead of talking about how to fight this beast we can talk about how to live life. You are not dead and you are not dying: you are alive. You are not healthy nor well. You are weak from this fight, from the tough road of this trip. Your mind is dulled from the strokes and the tumors and the radiation and from the drugs we give to reduce your pain. But you are alive. Now. And now. And now. And in this string of "nows", what do you want? Forget for a moment about taking care of the rest of us. Forget about what you should want or should do. Your string of "nows" is likely really short. What do you want?

I know the medicines have wreaked havoc with your senses of smell and taste. But is there anything you wish to taste or eat or drink or smell? I know the drugs have given you diabetes, but, honestly, if you want a hot fudge banana split, say the word! Anything you ask I will try to make happen.

Is there anything you want to do? Before you die and before you can no longer see or hear or speak, is there any conversation you want to have? I know you have been putting on a brave and happy face for your family and friends and even for the doctors and nurses. Do you want to take off that mask and cry? Soon it will be too late to say anything. Is there anything you want to say?

You have taught us with your courage. Are there any other lessons you want to teach? Words of wisdom from the edge of death?

What do I suggest? I suggest you forgive everyone that has hurt or disappointed you. Tell those you love that you love them. Hug them. Say thank you to everyone who has gifted you in small or great ways with kindness, skills, knowledge, or caring. Say goodbye powerfully.

The string of nows appears to have been written about and for a very good friend ours husband!
very inspiring and thoughtful

Thank you Dr. Joe
it has taken me almost two years to respond to this moving post, although strangely enough Dr. Joe, he died the very next day. Probably by the time you wrote this he was basically gone, unable to speak or move and struggling to breath. But I know that in the end it wasn't necessary for him to hug, say I love you or forgive because he never failed to do these things while he lived and even before he even knew he was sick. A rare man who did all that without having to, but just because he knew it was the right way to live. Evidence of this were those who came to his funeral - an unending trail of "the little guys" to whom he was so kind and "the big shots" whom he kept in his circle in order to do good works, so many friends and those to whom he may just have said hi or given a smile to everyday, new and old, young and elderly, all with tales of how he REALLY touched their lives. It tired and uplifted me all at the same time. He was admired by most but you were one that he admired most. And all of your patients understand why. How lucky we are. How you knew exactly what he needed is a Gift you gave so freely. He looked forward to your visit at his bedside EACH DAY. He counted on it and you never disappointed him helping him to laugh, pray and sing through this living hell. May God Bless You Always.
Thank you, HoJo. It helps me with my glioblastoma friend and it will help her when needed.
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