Yesterday I received an email from one of the writing groups I’ve joined. I don’t think I’ve met the woman who wrote it, but she sent it to everyone who’s on the email list
for the group:
Last Thursday I had a doctors appointment at [ ]. I expected to discuss new treatments. Instead she told me there was nothing more they could do for me. She estimates I have about 3 months. I’m totally at peace with pending death. I’ve enjoyed this group.
I found myself near tears at this. Heartbroken and unutterably moved at her grace in sending this out, as if it’s just another thank-you note. I picture her like that: the kind of woman who sends you a thank-you note for the lovely lunch and mentions again how pretty your blouse looked. I’ve changed her name here, because I feel certain she’s not the sort of woman who would want her business all over the internet.
And yet, I felt compelled to share it. Perhaps how we face our deaths is the final measure of how we approach our lives. My great-aunt had little cards prepared — stamped and pre-addressed — to send after her death that said, “you’ve received this card because I’ve died.” She went on to tell us special things and asked us to remember her in happiness. My favorite professor declined extreme treatment for his cancer so he could spend his remaining days in the classroom.
So here’s to your “adios,” Grace. May your last months be filled with love and art and beauty. And may you be remembered in happiness.
One Reply to “True Grace”
I have to admit to flinching at the phrase, “totally at peace with impending death.” Really? Totally? Can you be TOTALLY at peace with impending death? Should you be? On one hand, there is definitely a kind of nobility in defiance of the inevitable. There is courage in refusing to quit despite insurmountable odds. (Now I’ll be humming “Man of La Mancha” music all day.) On the other hand, there is undeniable pitifulness in struggling feebly on when the contest has already been decided. It is possible to hang on too long. WAY too long, in Dick Clark’s case, for example.
It’s a fine line. It probably comes back down, as Jeffe said, to your approach to life, and the circumstances at the end. One way or another, there’s certainly a lot to be said for being at peace.