One of my biggest fears, psychologically speaking, is to be accused of being the little boy who cried wolf. In other words, becoming so focused on this dying business that I holler for help or a warning to my loved ones, when it isn’t really necessary. It’s just so darned hard to know now, and I don’t want people who love me to be taken by surprise if possible.
This rash is an example. Turns out it is both/and. Another koan, of sorts. My skin is dry because I am old, because it is winter, and because, when one is dying of kidney cancer, one’s skin is exceptionally dry and bingo, a rash. Not a sign, this time, of imminent demise, but the cancer has a role in it.
I learned some new details about what this death might look like. Of course, we might all go up in a radioactive blast, if the news has any validity at all. But I mean, if I end up dying from this cancer. For those who are squeamish, stop reading. But here it is: my feet and ankles will swell up so badly that I won’t be able to put my shoes on. I will be nauseous and throw up, a lot. (Already do this, several times a week. Not a good sign.) I will become so confused that I will not know that I am confused. (This happened in September of 2017; I thought I had a small stroke. Lately, my mind is cloudy and uncertain.) I will be covered with another obnoxious rash. So, I get to itch to death? That makes me laugh. Sort of.
The things that I already know about include lots of pain, blood in my urine, swollen kidneys, people asking me to do kidney dialysis. None of that sounds like much fun. However, this is what it might look like.
What I do know, myself, is that nothing so far has gone like my oncologist predicted. Because, in my experience, doctors do not factor in spiritual practice, intentions, missions, and the impact of love itself. One’s community. And the presence of all the angels and saints and spiritual guides and ancestors watching over us from who knows where. Prayers, both received and sent. Blessings, both received and sent. And always joy, the immense healing power of joy. And nature, which holds it all, for me.
So this is what I pledge to you: I will not sound the alarm unless I am freaked out and need help. I will continue my spiritual practices and continue to hold on to not knowing, and stay open to help from all sides, this one and the one up ahead. I will work to help others dealing with dying and grief, and I will make sure that my book on transforming the fear of death gets finished and published, one way or another.
Bless you, each and every one. And, as my old friend Annie used to say, so far, so good!