You are the one I most hoped would make it
You of the vibrant colors, the valiant heart
You young with laughter, wise in sadness
Winging your way past the river of forgetfulness
Several years ago a brave and kind man started a local group for those of us with life threatening illness and our caretakers. Through it, it has been an honor and a privilege to meet people who remain heroic and funny and compassionate in the face of life’s great mystery, death. We want the same things: more life, less pain, less fear. We fear the same things: the unknown, will it hurt, will I feel cold and lonely, is there something, is there nothing, will I loose my “I”. We suffer remorse for the loss of ourselves and the time we won’t get. We wonder if in the end anyone will remember us. We fear separation from the people we love and of not being able to finish our work. We fear for our children and grandchildren if we are not here. Quite a number in our group have gone into remission or otherwise improved and moved on. Others we have lost to ALS . . . old age . . .Now we have lost Parvathy, the youngest, I believe, to cancer. I don’t think she made it to thirty-five.
This summer before Parvathy died, I spent a day with her at Filoli Gardens. The flowers were stunning, but dull beside the glow of Parvathy’s inner grace and enjoyment of the day and its wonders, which are many at Filoli. We talked of life and of hopes for the future. She still hoped for a healthy resolution and a future that would include a child with her new, young husband. She had pursued a successful professional career, and there were things she wished to accomplish. We got tea in the cafe and then sat in the gardens to drink it. We were good company, I think, despite differences in age, culture, and education. We did have a bond, after all. It is a bond all humans share, but not all of us face up to or are confronted with in the context of terminal illness.
For many of us, death comes slowly. First we give up a bit of our hearing, then a bit of our sight, then more than a little of our agility, height, and memory. Eventually, we heave a sigh and off we go, shedding the fleshy capsule. We have time to do things, to say good-bye slowly, to savor, to say to ourselves and others, “Hey, it was a great ride. No regrets.” Parvathy didn’t have time. It was all much too fast and much too painful. Her life had its high moments, certainly. She told me about some of them. But she did grow up in a war torn country. She lost a brother to war. She suffered from a terrible illness. She struggled with anger and remorse over these experiences. She tried to understand them and to understand a God who would do this to her and her family. In the end, she may have decided that her life had been good. I hope she did. I hope she could focus on the joys and find some peace. I wasn’t there. I don’t know. I just wished for her nothing less than what she wished for herself: a long life and less painful one.
© Jamie Dedes 2008-2011, all rights reserved
May your soul find peace, our dear, beautiful Parvathy. You are not and will not be forgotten. The warmth of your spirit lives on in our hearts.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Jamie Dedes ~ Jamie is a former freelance feature writer and columnist whose topic specialties were employment, vocational training, and business. She finds the blessing of medical retirement to be more time to indulge in her poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction. She has two novels in progress, one in final edits, and is pulling together a poetry collection. Her primary playground is Musing by Moonlight. She is the founder and editor/administrator of Into the Bardo. Jamie’s mother was diagnosed with cancer the first time at thirty-six. She went three rounds with breast cancer, one with thyroid cancer, and died at seventy-six of breast and colon cancer.