As it turned out Joan was scheduled to go to visit an old friend, Mary Larson, in Little Rock on Wednesday, so my first task was to insist that she go as planned. The second task was to tell my kids what had transpired, to tell them how I felt and to try to get them on the same page I was on. I had a chance to talk to Linda on Monday and I called each of the others that evening and asked them, except Barbara who is in Florida, to schedule some time with me so that we could have a talk. I had a project meeting in Amherst, MA the on Tuesday so I thought I’d begin to talk to them on Wednesday.
When I arrived home Tuesday evening I was surprised to find that Barbara had flown up from Florida and she and Kristen were waiting in our kitchen. We sat, had a glass of wine and I began to tell them the story that I would repeat a number of times during the week to family and close friends.
I said “ I have had a long and very happy life which has provided me with a very large and very extended family and group of close friends which I love, value and find great pleasure in. I have no complaints and consider myself a very lucky person. I am convinced that I have been here before, that I will be here again and that I was meant to be here to have some very specific experiences and to learn from them. I have, in my long life, had a lot of experiences. Some were good, some not so good, some looked bad but turned me in a direction that I found to be necessary and good for my life. I tried, and I think succeeded for the most part, to learn from those experiences. What I am beginning to undergo I regard as an another important experience and I will endeavor to learn from it. If it turns out to be the final exam I have no fear of death. A long time ago I had opportunity to watch death visit a great many of those I knew in a very short period of time. I think of death, when it comes, as the next great adventure.
I have two concerns. The first: is that the word cancer puts people in the position of being afraid of being with you or talking with you because they don’t know what to say. I do not want to be isolated because I have thrived on human contact all my life. Please communicate with me. The second: is that people will spend time, emotion and energy in needless worry about me. I am going to be fine no matter what happens. As I said above, I believe that this is a part of my life plan and I need to follow it and learn.
Lastly: I need to reserve the right to live and to die in a way of my choosing at a time of my choosing. If I find I am becoming a heavy burden on my family and friends I may elect to remove that burden at my discretion and without anyones permission. In no way should anyone construe this to mean that I have any immediate plan to do so.
I love you all more than you can know and more than I have, unfortunately, shown at times. Please understand what I have said and be a part of my team and perhaps we’ll have opportunity to learn some important things together”
In an example of my first concern, my granddaughter, Leilani, told her aunt Barbara on Wednesday that she “would like to see grandpa but didn’t know how to talk to him under the circumstances.” Barbara told her to come talk to me. That gave me the opportunity to deliver the message above after which, I believe, she went away feeling better. Barbara, Erica and I had a nice diner at a local, upscale, Italian restaurant and, I believe, Erica went away feeling better as well.
I had a chance to talk with my son in law Smitty, my grandchildren Natalia and Colin’s father and that went well.
During the rest of the week I called a few close friends, gave them the same information and asked them to get on the same page with me. All in all I think this week has gone well. I am sleeping as well, perhaps better then normal and feel good. Next week we’ll get some medical treatment detail and I’ll pass that along.
I suspect that in future there will be times when I will not show as much bravado, but we’ll deal with that when we get there. Hope you’ll stay with me through this and see what we can learn.