Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Saturday, February 05, 2011


It's been a good week.

I'm not kidding. These are not at all the despair-filled days I have imagined over the nearly six years of the course of this disease.

Peace has descended on our home. Mat is far more zen-like than I am, and he has long accepted that his life will be short. I didn't think this was possible, but I have too.

I can't explain exactly how this happened. Mat's frame of mind certainly helps, and his latest prognosis has brought clarity. No longer split between hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, my energy is focused on acceptance. Some inspired conversations have also helped.

Klara, the tall, blonde hospice nurse, said to Mat, "You know, one of the reasons you are doing so well is that you understand that you are not your body. You are not declining, only your body is declining. Your spirit is growing stronger all the time and is beginning to shine through. You're like a house whose panels are falling off and light is coming out. Soon the house will be gone but that light will still be there."

Mostly, though, I think this acceptance is a gift from God. I know that God's plan for Mat and our family is for him to die soon. I don't like it, and I don't understand it, but I accept it.

This week Mat has been purposeful and mentally, if not physically, energetic. There has been a steady stream of visitors at our house, some of whom have flown across the country to be here, and Mat clearly loves it. He wants to see as many people as possible (before 6 p.m. please, to preserve some time with the kids), and has talked on the phone to say goodbye to many others. Mat has also spent time with the kids, sat with them in front of a fire roasting marshmallows, and given them father's blessings. And today Mat and I spent some time in the celestial room of the Boston temple. It was a piece of heaven on earth.

It's not all spiritual depth at our house. Mat has been watching episodes of his new favorite TV show, Bizarre Foods. He finds it soothing to watch the host travel to exotic places and eat things like guinea pigs and wild boar testicles, and Ian loves watching it with him. I also join him, but only for a dying man would I watch someone sucking on an eyeball. (Sorry! That was gross!)

And for the last book he will read Mat has chosen not War and Peace or Dr. Zhivago but ... Princess Stories. It's a favorite of mine from childhood, and we read a chapter together every night before bed.

Of course it's also been a difficult week. Mat is increasingly in pain, and changes in his pain medication help but can't seem to quite keep up with the spread of his cancer. His port -- that crucial device implanted in his chest that delivers pain medication -- is regularly threatening to malfunction. I flush it three times a day and pray that it will work as long as he needs it. Mat is also now unable to walk without assistance, and then only a few steps.

Life has become painful, tiring, and difficult for Mat, and he is ready for it to be over. And I am ready to let him go.

At least for today, I am not afraid.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

Praying for quiet days and peaceful nights and the port to remain functioning.

amydear said...

I am thinking so much of you and your family today. Thank you for sharing a few of your precious moments. I am glad that this is a good week at your house.

Cami said...

I feel like I should bow my head and remove my shoes. This post is a holy place.

Eileen P. said...

Your faith is truly inspiring. If there is something to be thankful for, it is that you have been granted some peace and yes, acceptance. You remain in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Kimberly, you've touched our hearts in so many ways with this blog. You really should compile your journey into a book. I agree with Cami. Thank you for allowing us a window into your family's sacred moments.


~laurie said...

Wow Kim. Such grace from you as always. I love what your hospice nurse said to Mat. It is so true. Please pass along our love and prayers to Mat from Idaho.

~laurie swift anglen

EmilyCC said...

A beautiful post, my dear. Holding you all in my heart.

One Woman's Thoughts said...

Together your light shines brighter than ever.

Peace in your heart and with God is empowering.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I think you defined grace in your post.
I love you!

Kristiina said...

Oh, Kimberly. I don't know what to say, but wish you both peace and strength.

Emily said...

Just went through a few tissues reading this post. We're praying for your family, and peace is what we've been praying for.

Purpletailgate said...

Oh, Kimberly, I hope you can feel the love of your friends. I'm so glad you could go to the temple with Mat. Continued peace to you all.

Large Marge said...

I just want to let you know that I am thinking of you and your family today.


The Proud Llama said...

Beautiful post. I am again crying at reading it! I agree with your hospice nurse - I think close to death these things become more apparent, but we all need to remember all the time that we are not our bodies.
Peace be to all of you.

One Woman's Thoughts said...

just stopped by today to say I am thinking of you and sending wishes for comfort to you and your family.

Tracey said...

After reading your blog from beginning to end, I think I can finally accept my Dad and his death from cancer.

How you have endured through this while yet maintaining such composure and strenghth I do not know. I am not as strong a woman as you and don't know if I could gracefully accept my fate at the same age as Mat has. God Bless your family.

SLP said...

I am not sure what to type...
Supporting you half way accross the country is not how I imagined this.
Fantasticly raw and endearing post.
Keeping you in my thoughts daily,

One Woman's Thoughts said...

Today is Valentine's Day.
I don't have an email address for you, but I hope that today you feel loved. That no matter how everything is going for you, you know that love gets you through it. Love of self, love of partner, love of family and friends, but especially love of God.
You are in the hearts of many dear friend.

Michelle said...

Hi Kim, I was in the Arlington ward for a short while but has been following your journey from NC since we moved.

Just wanted to let you know that you have gone through this journey with such faith and grace. Thank you very much for being such a great example. My family is praying for you and your family at this difficult time. May you continually feel peace and love.