Where do you want to be when you die? A simple question asked by a friend that has spooked me for the past few weeks. I had just completed a few days of testing, being poked and scanned and feeling much more like a pincushion than anything else. I was on my way to that one appointment to get the results and see where life would lead me. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw the car of a dear friend and was stunned to see her get out of the car. It was quite noticeable that Teresa was going through another round of chemotherapy, her hair was gone and dark shadows rimmed her beautiful blue eyes. However, her spirit was evidently strong by the way she carried herself proudly! I parked and got out of the car and went over to walk inside with her. We hugged lightly, no words needed, as we both knew what she was going through. We checked in and took seats next to each other, waiting for our turn. As we both settled in, Teresa turned to me and asked, “Where do you want to be when you die?” I sat there stunned, not that I have never thought about this question, I was just never asked directly! Panic ran rampant through my veins as I wondered why she asked this question… realizing all too quickly that she was probably contemplating this same question herself. Chemotherapy is a tough road to travel, even worse as the treatment goes on, and worse yet when it is your 2nd, or 3rd or 6th round of poison flowing through your veins. I’ve had some experience with this.
So, I let the question settle in my mind trying to find the best way to answer as I could. However, first I asked Teresa the same question, “Where do you want to be when you die?”… Teresa got very quiet, whispering if this doesn’t work out well, I don’t want to be home. I don’t want anyone I know to see the end. I just want it to happen quickly and if possible, painlessly. I am tired. Silent tears sprang to my eyes as I reached for my friend. I just hugged her and cried with her, there were no words.
When you are fighting a monster like cancer, sometimes the hardest thing is to watch those you love suffer. To see the fear and pain in their eyes as they watch you change from the person you once were, into this frail shell with nothing left but spirit and hope, as the drugs take away all that is good in your world. As the ravages of disease and treatments take over your life, your world becomes smaller as you try to preserve what little energy you have left to put on a good show for when others are around. For some strange reason, it is always easier to put on a happy face than to focus on what may actually be. In your heart of hearts you know how bad it is and it can succumb you.
Teresa’s name was called and we hugged once more before she vanished behind the soft pink door to the inner office. I sat alone thinking of where I wanted to be at that time, or more importantly, where I didn’t. Thoughts crept in of those times when I had been so low that I have felt all was lost. Honestly, there have been times in my life when I would have given my all to fly off a mountaintop into the silent abyss. I have also had days when at my lowest point I wanted to curl up like a baby and cry until the tears washed the world away and I was nothing. I’m not very proud of either of these thoughts, but they are mine.
There is always a part of me that feels I must be grateful for what I have been given and where I am. Life or living is hard, death would be the easy way out. But I am here, waiting to see what is left and hoping that everything will be okay… someday. Needless to say, my life is not filled with sunshine and lollipops right now, however, it could be worse! As my name was called and I was led back to the office to hear the results of the testing I had done, I closed the door on the thoughts that had been creeping into my mind about the end and hoped for good news.
I passed Teresa’s room as I went through the hallway and glanced in, she was smiling and silently said remission. It felt as if a weight had been lifted from my chest and my step lightened thinking of good things now. It is so strange sometimes, knowing that your world can change so quickly when you hear that magic word! Treatment changes and the world becomes a new place of wonder. Of course, it isn’t ‘normal’ but then again, what is?
I’ve babbled enough for now, so, I’ll get back to the question at hand. Where do I want to be when I die? I’d like to be in a soft peaceful place filled with my favorite music and just let it come. I want to be in that moment, I want to see what dreams I have made and what will come. I’d prefer to say ‘I love you’ with a clear mind, drug free and just let it happen. Maybe it’s a selfish thing, but it is how I feel and what I want. It’s written down and signed and copied and distributed. And now it’s here! I am hopeful this won’t happen for a long while, as I have plans and “miles to go before I sleep”!
I leave you now with a song called Breathe by Call To Mind. I’ve been listening to their music this evening as I’ve been working and writing. Have a listen and just breathe!
I’ll say so long for now, until the next time…
It started with a song…