Monday, March 02, 2009

March 2, 2009 - Power of Blog

One of the tough realities of following cancer blogs is that, from time to time, someone you’ve come to know and respect in this strangely intimate medium dies. This is what’s happened in the “Clusterfook” blog written by Lisa, a young wife and mother who’s been dealing with ovarian cancer for several years now.

One of the last topics Lisa blogged about was what she called “power of blog” – a concept similar to power of attorney, but having to do, instead, with who would take over her blog. As she entered hospice care, she had to find someone to whom she could entrust her username and password, so as to inform the blogosphere of her death.

Her husband is not evidently much of a computer person, so she turned to a fellow blogger. On Saturday, February 28, Lisa’s friend, Karl, posted news of her death.

Just over a month ago, Lisa mused about the reactions of some readers, who said they found her blog “too depressing.” I never had that reaction, myself, as I read her words. I found Lisa consistently blunt and down-to-earth as she described her decline in health, but she seasoned those grim facts with a quirky sense of humor and a passion for living her days to the fullest.

Here are a couple of excerpts from that post of January 26:

“As heart breaking as death is, I’m doing O.K. with everything that’s happening. Do you hear any ‘woe is me?’ in my writing? Do I sound like I feel sorry for myself? Am I crying out for pity?

No, no and no.

Every day I strive for inner peace and so far I’ve found it. I consider myself one lucky chick-o-dee, perhaps I should say I’m a blessed chick-o-dee to have such calm and inner peace.

That’s not to say that I don’t cry. Crying is a release of emotion for me but I’m not crying every day. Usually I cry when having deep, heartfelt discussions with family members and friends. Those moments when we are brutally honest about how we feel about each other and say to each other the things we should be saying but usually never have the courage to say. Then the day comes when it’s too late to say what we’ve always wanted to say.

If you ask me, it’s a gift to have those opportunities right now. My advice to you is don’t wait until you are facing death to tell those dear to you how you really feel about them. Whatever is holding you back…let it go.”

In a post just prior to that one, Lisa related what it had been like to tell her 8- and 11-year-old girls (whom she calls by the pseudonyms “Cam” and “Teeny”) that she was dying:

“Telling Cam and Teeny the truth, that I’m not going to get better, was one of the most heart breaking things I’ve ever had to do. It is NOT easy to tell your children that you are dying. Listening to them cry was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. Not being able to fix it is the worst feeling in the world....

[that’s her blogging nickname for her husband] and I decided to deliver the news to the girls last Saturday afternoon, a few hours before they had to go to church. Teeny has been consistently lighting a candle for me every week and she finds a lot of comfort in going to mass with Dude. Cam doesn’t complain about going nor does she get real excited. Dude and I thought they might find some extra comfort in going to church after talking to us earlier in the afternoon.

I’ve been too sick to go to mass for a while so Dude takes the girls by himself. He said that each girl was snuggled up as close and as tight to his side as they could be during mass. And of course, Teeny lit a candle as she always does. When she got home she told me that she still believes in the hope that I’m going to get better. God, how I wish that little ray of sunshine was right....

My kids are strong but they have been dealing with cancer in their lives for five years. I hope the lessons they’ve learned and continue to learn make them stronger and don’t scar them. Although how do you tell an 8 and 11 year old there’s a lesson to be learned when their mom dies?

Well, I’ve got them surrounded by great people and a good support system that I hope pulls through for them. That’s how you do it.”

Lisa’s blog has a subtitle: “It Is What It Is.” I can remember repeating that phrase on numerous occasions, myself, during the acute phase of my illness. I can remember taking an odd sort of comfort in it. There’s something strangely liberating about shedding all the myriad worries and distractions of everyday life in order to focus on one, true thing: living as well as you can.

One of the reasons “It is what it is” is comforting is that it reflects a fundamental truth: a cancer diagnosis is a lot scarier through the windshield than it is in the rear-view mirror. Eventually you adapt, your family adapts, your friends adapt, as together you learn to face the future, whatever it may hold. A few people around us are never able to do that, and withdraw – but most manage to make the transition eventually.

Yes, it is what it is. And, sometimes, it can even be beautiful – like Lisa’s indomitable spirit. Truly, that’s the “power of blog.” Prayers and good wishes go out to all who love Lisa and miss her.


CLL SPOUSE said...

THANKS so much for sharing this! There were so many excellent nuggets - gems - from both Lisa AND you that I won't try to list them all or go into them. Just wanted to say that your tribute here was read and appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to put it all together.

'It is what it is' a great place to arrive at, no matter how many times the trip has to be made.

Carl said...

You're welcome. I hesitated, at first, to share something so personal from someone else's blog, but it seemed like it was in the spirit of everything Lisa was trying to accomplish by blogging to do so. I never met her except through her writing. By sharing so deeply, she's given a marvelous gift to others.