Friday, August 12, 2011

Life and Death

This week I visited with an old friend who is waiting to die. Those are her words. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago, had radiation and was pronounced cancer-free. A year later it metastasized to her bones and lungs. She moved into hospice several years ago. She became one of the few people to live longer than expected. Finally she has been given 9-12 months to live, but she is eager for the 6 months mark so she can take advantage of Oregon's Death with Dignity law. Her doctor promised at the outset to help her end her life when she had only 6 months left. For a long time she still had enough quality of life left that she was in no hurry, but this week she told me she is marking time. She sleeps as much as possible to speed up the process.
This morning I learned that another friend, one I haven't seen in years, a much younger friend, died last week of a heart attack, and is at this moment being laid to rest. I missed the service because I learned of it just a little too late. She was a great talent and wonderful spirit. She directed my solo show on my 40th birthday, one I decided to put on for 50 of my closest friends to show "what forty looks like" to the total mortification of my teenage daughter. She had no idea I would strip naked. My director didn't judge me, she helped me do everything to the best of my abilities. I may have been my most creative self under her tutelage. She leaves a great hole in Portland and the world. RIP Carolyn Holzman.
And that is life.
Death. Dying. Holes ripped in our universe, scars left on our hearts as we experience loss of loved ones, and even of those we never knew. Consider 9/11. As we approach the 10th anniversary of the day the World Trade towers came down, the Pentagon was attacked, and Flight 93 was hijacked, we are reminded of lives that were lost, which reactivates all the grief we still have stored in our bodies, our minds, our hearts. My friend Pema Teeter is doing a beautiful thing over on her blog from now till 9/11/11 -- she's writing a story a day to help us all heal, and she's inviting you to write as well. Check it out:

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