This is my last week home so I’m starting to think about all I want to bring with me to my brother’s house. I’ve never been away from my home for more that 10-12 days so this is all new. I hope my brother doesn’t freak out when he sees all that I am bringing! I started by asking my 4 grandchildren to each give me a stuffed animal of theirs so I can have something of theirs with me – they obliged SO lovingly. My daughter made me a beautiful afghan a few years ago when I had my hip replaced so I am bringing that – it is heavy and very warm and comforting. I think of these items and others as “inner comfort” versus outer comfort. A close friend recently gave me a very precious gift – it is a painting of a beautiful angel, very colorful and just stunning. The paining is by a local Virginia artist. Just today I saw another of her angel pictures on Facebook with the caption, “Where your fears are, put angels there.” So although I am not choosing to be fearful, I am bringing my beautiful angel with me to watch over me.
I have been an avid reader for years, reading both for pleasure/enjoyment as well as for information – you might call me a “seeker” of knowledge. After I got my diagnosis in 2011 I started reading many books, many of which contained Buddhist teachings, which I’ve been drawn to for years, and also books about dying. I thought I was going to die soon so I felt I needed to get more comfortable and less fearful about it. Reading these books gave me great comfort. They soothed my soul. If I would go longer than a week or so without reading something like these books, I would feel disconnected in some way – so I would pick up where I left off or just get another book. Sometimes such books just came to my attention, without my looking for them. One of them that I have been re-reading recently is Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser (who founded the Omega Institute). This book speaks of not only Elizabeth’s journey but of many others’ as well. She says “The transformational journey is a voyage with a hundred different names…All of these names describe the process of surrendering to a time of great difficulty, allowing the pain to break us open, and then being reborn – stronger, wiser, and kinder.” Her name for the “quest” is the Phoenix Process named for the mythic bird with golden plumage whose story has been told throughout the ages. The Egyptians called the bird the Phoenix and believed that every five hundred years he renewed his quest for his true self. I could go on and on, but this book is so worth reading and contains so much wisdom. Following are some of my other favorites which I can easily take to my brother’s because they are on my Kindle: The Journey Through Cancer: Healing and Transforming the Whole Person by Dr. Jeremy Geffen, MD; A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as if it were your last by Stephen Levine, as well as Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying by Stephen and Ondrea Levine. Stephen and his wife worked with the grieving and dying for years, both personally and in workshops. These books are filled with wisdom and compassion and so much more; The Best Care Possible, A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through The End of Life by Ira Byock, MD; Dying Well, also by Dr. Byock; The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This book is a memoir of Will’s going through his mother’s terminal cancer journey. As he accompanied her to treatments and spent time with her they would share books they had read in the past as well as titles they agreed to read together. This is not a really sad story because the mother-son bond is so beautiful and his mother was an amazingly accomplished woman and humanitarian. The sharing of her wisdom and experience with her son is so special as well; When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron. Pema is a Buddhist monk who has written many books using meditation as the foundation for her wisdom teachings.
Thursday I will head to my brother’s with all my “stuff”. We will have a meeting with the attending physician that afternoon and a nurse. On Friday I will have a new catheter put in, and then on Saturday the Odyssey with really begin – stay tuned!
With love, Kathy