Monday, March 30, 2009
A Fine Farewell
What happens after you die? None of us still living know for sure, a fact that doesn't stop almost everyone from forming an opinion.
My client was one of those rare people who had never really given the topic much thought. She was an uber-achiever who had never stopped long enough in her busy career and busy life to think about the beyond, until her first cancer diagnosis.
She was angry when she heard the news, furious even. She met the challenge in the same way she met all of life's challenges, by devising a strategy, making a to-do list, and then jousting with the challenge head on. She did western medicine and eastern medicine, she came to me for bodywork, did bio-feedback, saw a counselor. As a result of the therapy, she decided to launch into a relationship with God for the first time. Though she had never connected with the life of the spirit, her prayer practice was quite passionate and ongoing. She let God know in no uncertain terms that she would not go gentle into the good night. She negotiated her treatment with God in the same way that she negotiated deals in her working life. It was an amazing process to witness. She had balls. She did.
After she finished treatment, she went back to her full-bore life, which meant I didn't see nearly as much of her for awhile. When she received her second diagnosis, she returned to her schedule of bodywork and other modalities immediately. I was surprised to notice a certain softness about her when she returned. It was the last thing I ever expected! She joined a meditation group, started doing yoga. She slowed down a little bit, began spending more time with her family, more time outdoors. Even her relationship with God softened. Hers was an amazing metamorphosis from hard-assed and bitchy to compassionate, open hearted.
For the last couple of years, her life has been all about the cancer, forget the career, forget the uber-achievements. The cancer spread here, then there, and finally spread everywhere. The last time I talked to her (on the phone, she was in the hospital) she said, "You know how, after someone dies, they say that person has gone to a 'better' place?" She said, "I've been given a glimpse, Reya, and you will not believe how beautiful it is. You would not believe it." There was music in her voice when she said that, a music I had never heard in all the years we've worked together.
Cancer, for her, was a situation that polished her spirit and opened her heart, and helped her evolve into one of the kindest people I've ever known. She died in a state of calm, in a state of grace. I would never have imagined such a scene when I first met her. Wow.
May she rest in peace in that beautiful place she got a glimpse of. May we all find beauty at the end of life! So may it be!