Into the deep

monkehy and skeleton

Two for one today.

I just finished reading a story in this week’s magazine, The Week. It was a reprint of an article that first appeared in Orion Magazine:

I’m crying.

The author is Eva Saulitis, a young woman facing an uncertain future. Actually, that’s sugar-coating it and I’m not doing that. She has cancer and there’s no cure and she’s going to die. She doesn’t know when. Soon, maybe. Maybe next year, maybe not, how does one know, how does one calculate–

I am distancing myself from this woman’s death sentence.

No, I’m not. But I’m trying because my heart breaks for her. And I’m trying because I know that could have been me. It’s selfish of me, I know, but that’s part of it, the realization that I could have been in her soggy shoes right now, standing in the muck and mire, facing Death.

I didn’t get that far, not even. That’s not to say I didn’t think about it. I heard ‘cancer’ and was afraid–in moments, despairingly so–but I had no right to go to that place, I had no right. There was hope for me but for this person, this person. . .

That’s not the point of this post. The point is, her story moved me to tears and I want

I don’t know what I want.

Eva knows what she wants. She wants to feel mud squishing between her toes. She wants to breathe damp forest air. She wants to know the trees, be part of their world; she wants to be one with Nature itself. She wants to face Death with grace. The grace of a falling leaf. The grace of the salmon sloughing flesh; its duty done, its life cycle complete. Nature expects no less from every other living thing, commands no less, why should it be different for her? Why does it have to be?

Eva Saulitis doesn’t want to spend her last days tethered to an artificial world, drugged and cubicled in a white, antiseptic world far removed from the one she loves. I love nature, too, and I imagine I know how she feels. I imagine it so, and wish I could tell her: I know, I know, I know my dear, I know how you feel and I’m crying and wishing you a pure and natural death, a peaceful death if you can have it; a death, if not pain-free, then at least with your face tilted up, tasting rain and tears, drinking both in to the last.

Her story is beautiful and terrible. She wrote it, maybe for us to read and weep but I don’t think so. I think she wrote it for herself because Death is her companion now and she has to deal with it, she has to somehow accept it, come to terms with it; somehow, find peace with it. I caught a glimpse.

She’s staring it in the face.

3 thoughts on “Into the deep

  1. I have no words, only a heart tug connection to all of this from being in the periphery as my elder loved ones passed. The knowing, and coming to terms with the end of our existence as we’ve come to understand it must be so difficult–a word that does no justice to the enormity of it. It is a test of all that a person is and has learned and wants to be, I think.


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