It is not the length of life, but the depth of life—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I had a routine colonoscopy a couple days ago. The doctor entered my recovery cubicle where I was sipping a lemon-lime soda on my too hard bed.
I expected to hear, “We removed some polyps and all is clear.” I expected to go on about my business with some jokes about the preparation ordeal. I expected my body to not fail me at age seventy—young enough to volunteer, create art and travel.
The doctor betrayed me by saying, “We found a mass.” She showed me pictures. I could not determine whether the mass was the size of New England or the size of a pin head. In my stupor, I did not have enough sense to ask questions.
At home, I looked up symptoms for colon cancer. I missed them all, including this incredible tired feeling I pushed through daily. I assigned the fatigue to aging and refused to let it dominate my agenda.
I am prepared for death more than for a fight. My mother, who lost her own mother when she was five and her father when she was seventeen, was determined her children would not fear death. She told me each time young me went to a funeral or visited great aunts in nursing homes, “I will not have a child afraid to see a body at a funeral or disrespectful of the aging!”
Mother and I walked through the cemetery each Memorial Day. She told me the stories of dead relatives, their tales real and alive above the bones lying in caskets. Mother was embracing them mentally as she had physically in life.
Mother dealt with her own decline in a pragmatic way. She first told me she was no longer allowing herself to drive to Salina forty-two miles away, then Abilene a distance of twenty-two miles, then Herington eight miles from home. When she struggled to maintain her house, she moved to an apartment a block from me. Her last years were spent in my home in her own bed with the pink quilt she created decades earlier.
So, I am waiting for direction to know what decisions are to be made – fight or surrender. The decision already made is to have a joyful end whether a decade or a season.
As is my pattern, I will write it out on my blog and paint it out on canvas.