I’m not saying goodbye to you all now, I was just thinking about a quote I heard recently. I was catching up on all things Criminal Minds, the original, in preparation for watching the final season (not sure how I feel about that) and one of the quotes for an episode was shared like this … “AA Milne wrote, ‘how lucky I am that I have something that makes saying good bye so hard.'” Upon doing some research, I discovered that the quote actually came from Evans G. Valens book/movie “A Long Way Up: The Story Of Jill Kinmont.”
Regardless of the appropriate attribution, it is one of those things that healthy people don’t want to think about and those of us with an incurable/terminal illness like Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer ponder rather regularly.
When one is diagnosed with a serious or life ending illness, taking stock and evaluating each element of life is a pretty consistent response. Even if no action is taken, that thought process is helpful in crystalizing priorities and determining where energy can be allocated. It is not something that most people living their lives as healthy adults do without some sort of impetus. Just thinking about how few people have completed the legal documents to make their wishes known after death gives us some insight.
For most of us diagnosed with a serious illness, our lives, by necessity, become smaller, the true inhabitants fewer. Hopefully, our lives are peopled by those who are truly there for us and our energy is spent on those worthwhile things. Hopefully.
I think we all desire to leave something behind, accomplishments, how we are known, the people who miss us. In these things, we do live on after our physical death. And yet, how do we amass this legacy? How do we determine what we leave behind or what we want to leave behind?
I think about these things a lot; and more so now that my treatment has taken a rather sinister turn. And yes, my life is full of things that I don’t want to leave. I’d prefer not to say goodbye just yet. Sadly, none of us is in control of this part, this last part.
Not to worry, I’m very hopeful that the last transition is still some ways away yet for me. There’s nothing that indicates any reason why the next treatment or even the next few won’t be successful for a long time.
And still, taking stock, thinking about what will be left behind is a practice I can lose myself in for hours and hours. And this, I think, is a kind of anticipatory grief. Everyone will die, someday. Those of us with an understood cause/anticipation of death just have a little more information.