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Archive for July, 2009

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This morning I snapped awake at 5:01 a.m. I knew that Arlene was dying. The phone didn’t ring until 9:04. Maria simply said, “She’s gone.”

Last Wednesday, I spent the afternoon with Avi. She was nauseous and had spent the night throwing up. Still, she was eyeing a slice of cold pizza–wanting and not wanting to eat it. We sat together in her living room with her husband and the Hospice Social Worker. She was, as always, checking to be sure that everyone was comfortable–was the temperature okay, did we want pizza, should we turn the fan off?  She got up several times, was somewhat confused and clearly in pain.

On Saturday morning, I spent time with Avi and her husband and sister in the Emergency Room. She still smiled when she saw me and when I took her hand, she kissed my hand. She was tired and barely coherent.

Later, after visiting my Dad, I went back to the hospital. By this time, she had been admitted and had a private room. She was resting peacefully and gave me a faint smile of recognition and squeezed my hand. I sat with her in silence and then told her that it was okay to let go. That she could breathe and relax and allow herself to be completely loved by the heart of the universe. I knew when I left that it was the last time that I would see her.

This morning I sat alone with her body and spirit. I sang to her and felt her energy close at hand. We had talked about this moment many times. I promised that I would come and sit with her after her death wherever she was. I thought about all the goodbyes that we must say in this lifetime and about all that Avi taught me about living and about dying. Before her diagnosis, she knew that she had cancer. After her first round of treatment, her remission and her recurrence, we spent every Wednesday morning together from 10 to noon. I learned about her joys, her sorrows, her fears, her regrets, her family, her Hospice work, her faith and her doubt.

I once read about a tribe in Africa where when someone dies, the community gathers in remembrance and decides who will take on that person’s sense of humor, and their way of telling a story, and perhaps their way of cooking or dancing or singing. Their commitment is to keep the person alive in spirit. I, for one, aspire to take on Avi’s tender and generous heart and her sensitivity to the suffering of others.

Avi, you will always be remembered. I picked these flowers from my garden for you.

“No coming, no going,
No after, no before.
I hold you close to me,
I release you to be so free,
Because I am in you,
And you are in me…
Because I am in you,
And you are in me…”

– PLUM VILLAGE CHANTING BOOK –

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The Fourth of July always brings back wonderful memories…parades, community fairs, picnics and FIREWORKS…

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I LOVE fireworks! This is the first year that I’ve attempted to photograph the display in our little community.

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What a blast! Literally and figuratively. At dusk my husband and I walked to the middle school track with our folding chairs, my tripod and camera in hand.

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The full moon was bright and I wondered how the ambient light would affect my photos. I really had no idea what I was doing.

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Just a grand experiment in aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Plus, who knew what was coming next and where it might show up in the frame?

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I won’t subject you to the entire show…just a taste of the variety…

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Such a palate of vibrant color…

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And now, for the GRAND FINALE…

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This is where you sing the “Stars and Stripes Forever”….

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