Thursday, August 31, 2006

Too much Thelma and Louise?

The weather is beautiful here today. You can almost smell fall in the air and not a moment too soon. I hate heat and even worse, being an Arizona kinda' gal, I hate humidity.

In the past week, an old acquaintance's wife relapsed after losing custody of their daughter. She drove from Oakland to northern Arizona after the court hearing and jumped to her death in the Grand Canyon. She left behind a five-year old child who will never recover from her loss. I hear sometimes in the rooms that "perhaps my child was better off without me" during one's addiction. Perhaps that's true. But I know this. I've never met anyone whose parent committed suicide who ever really overcame it, not 100 percent, at least. My brother once said it very simply but in a way that made perfect sense to me. You can cut off a person's leg and give him a prosthetic leg but he's still going to limp, he said. Those of us in the rooms still limp, even though many of our wounds were self-inflicted.

Suicide, at least in most cases, is the ultimate act of anger. I know that there are those who suffer from mental and physical illnesses that are devastating. Those I don't judge from making the decision to die. It is, I believe, their right. But it always a terrible wound to those around us.

Last year shortly before and after my transplant I too wanted to lie under the cedars and go to the big sleep from the pain and the loneliness. I had dogs who relied on me, though, and I found as I faced the fact that I was dying, my will to live became incredibly strong.

One night before I returned to St. Louis for my transplant, I was in an Arizona hospital in intensive care, my kidneys failing. The nephrologist, who had the bedside manner of an Asian fruit fly, told my brother and my friend/advocate Pat that I wouldn't live through the night. Pat told the doctor that he discounted me, because he didn't know me and take into consideration how tenacious I was. She was right, thank God, and he was wrong. People die when they choose to die, I think sometimes, and I just wasn't ready. God knew that. He granted me a reprieve.

After my specialist (who ironically was the wife of the doctor who wrote me off in the hospital) predicted I had four months, at best, to live, things became incredibly clear. I prayed often, simply telling God that although I wasn't ready to die, if that was his will, I accepted it. I accepted it because I didn't have a choice. But I also told God that I felt strongly that I still had things to do here on earth. That was the extent of my prayers. But people put me on prayer lists and in a series of miracles, I received a liver.

As I write this, I have lost my father to cancer, my mother to Alzheimer's, my dear friend the great writer and recovering woman Susan Lydon to cancer, another friend to a motorcycle accident last December and another of my friends almost killed himself last week from an accidental gunshot wound. (No, Dick Chaney was nowhere around.)

I think about them, each wanting so badly to live. Then I think of this woman, who drove over twenty hours to get to the Grand Canyon, to jump with such crystal-clear premeditation to her death. I can only recognize the power of the disease of addiction. Addiction could allow her, against every human instinct as a parent, to throw herself into the abyss at the expense of her child's lifetime suffering. It is the ultimate act of selfishness.

Enough gloom and doom. It's a beautiful day, I have an article to write, Hazeldon has my daily meditation book for review (say a few prayers in that regard, okay?) and I have a dog who is wondering "What about me? When's my walkie?" Until tomorrow, rest in the power of our God.

No comments: