There is not a day that I don’t think about climate change. I think about the loss that is unfolding before our eyes and often I think about actions I can take to slow it down. My close friends hear my thoughts about this.. How many resources should we be using to slow it down whilesimultaneously we need to be planning for the effects it is bringing us. And while I am making changes in my life to address climate change there is a constant awareness that we are not making them fast enough.
A friend recently asked me where this need to focus so constantly comes from. What part of me feels this nudge? I have thought of her question and realized the similarity for me around Doug’s dying process. When Doug was diagnosed he already had 27 tumors in his body. A shocking discovery for a man that had biked in Switzerland a few weeks before. He later said that the experience of biking was his last “feeling good day”.
So there was this urgency to find out what kind of cancer he had so we could begin treatment. At the same time that we felt this urgency there was immediately blocks to moving forward. The local hospital and its many doctors decided to no longer take our insurance so we had to navigate finding all new doctors in a nearby town. It took two tissue samples and weeks of waiting to get a diagnosis . Other mistakes were made.. a misdiagnosis.. lost records….an infection caused by one of the procedures. And always there was this sense of losing the time we needed to move forward.
Through out this process I was researching his cancer which was very rare, trying to find any clinical trials to get into. But nothing. A rare cancer also doesn’t have many trials especially one that is so deadly and quick. Doug’s role in this was to focus on getting through the appointments.. treatments and living his life as fully as he could. My role was to research and share with him only what he wanted to know. So he knew what was needed to make a decision but he chose to not know the prognosis. That was what I carried. He never knew that the average life span was only seven months.. . Doug made it to ten months and lived through the last few months happy and full of which I am grateful.
When I said to my friend that new studies show that south Vietnam may only have thirty more years before it is under water..I was blurting out a prognosis. And we of course don’t know the exact time line but there is a sense of urgency in me. I think it is the urgency that first came up with Doug’ illness. That if we figured out all the right things and moved quickly we could save his life. But at some point there was a realization that it was time to let go of the strategy and to hold what life there was tenderly. And some of these same feelings are here. There is a sense that I am holding many perceptions at once. To know what is happening but not be so fearful that I shut down to doing what I know to do…..to compassionately accept the loss and deaths already occurring and to live fully with what is.
We have to wake up…make changes….live fully.. Because sometimes we only have seven months.
May you wake to beauty and gratitude in each moment in the New Year!