Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of life as we knew it

Doing Christmas cards this year reminds us once again that old friends and relatives are dropping off, one by one. When your cousins and friends are in their 70s the attrition rate starts to undergo a geometric progression. This year my younger cousin's husband died of bladder cancer and a cousin of my vintage, 75, had her husband die of heart failure. There is nothing that can be said that is any emollient to the grief that comes with these partings. In the card you could say, as Percy Bysshe Shelley did, " When winter comes, can spring be far behind ?" Time does heal, and spring does arrive again. Moreover, so many of our friends now, are developing chronic and debilitating illness. Though many complain, or at least need a sounding board, or compare joints and joint replacements, there is usually, in time, an acceptance of where you are. Accepting things is what it is all about. Living with your disability and adapting your life to fit. None of this, as Dylan Thomas wrote, " Do not go gentle into that good night, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.". There is so much stress to attempt to modify the aging process that we have lost the reality of the nature of life, and illness, and death, and see it as a battle to be fought. Hopefully with age, comes understanding before dementia sets in. Think on it as "Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer "( Richard the third). Despite the risk of irritating the purists, I twisted Shakespeare's meaning around, to think of the "summer" as a return to joy in what we have left, and what we will be. If you think this is Pollyannaish, tell me something better?

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