I can’t wrap my head around losing Joan Grey.
Intellectually, I knew it was coming.
I saw her a week ago, Thursday. I could tell she was fading. She told me so too. She knew she didn’t have long. She could feel her body shutting down.
But to have her really go?
Even after she got her dire diagnosis, she made every minute of her time count. She lived the philosophy she outlined in her book Good Goodbyes: A Mortal’s Guide to Life. She wrote, “…Everyone tells you what to expect when you are expecting. No one outlines how to prepare yourself and your loved ones for dying.” Ironically, after the diagnosis, Joan lived her book for 9 months.
She tried chemo – and it seemed to only make the tumor mad. And bigger. She acknowledged the treatment’s futility long before another, not so well prepared, would have seen the cards on the table.
She tried positive thinking – touted by some researchers and periodicals as having astounding results. People beat pancreatic cancer even though their odds were so stacked against them. But not Joan. She lamented, “I am trying, I am thinking positive thoughts, I believe, I visualize. I hope. I pray. What is wrong with me, why is my tumor only getting bigger?”
I thought for awhile and said, “Maybe the answer to our prayer is ‘no’. Maybe some people get more time because they have more unfinished business, or they haven’t lived as well. You have accomplished more in your lifetime thus far than most people accomplish in twice as much time. Maybe the answer is you have done well soldier – it’s time to come home.
We played this game: picking cards from Doreen Virtue’s Healing with The Angels. We would form our intentions and shuffle the cards. Then each would pick. While I got – new love, celebration and playfulness, Joan got – surrender and release, and Michael the Archangel, and finally her last card body care. The only hopeful cards Joan pulled in the whole 9 months that we played were Friendship and Divine Guidance.
Neither of us pulled the Miracle card. I found a sign “expect miracles”. Why have the miracles been missing? I wondered – and Joan said – I’ve been given miracles. I went to Colorado with the kids and grandkids, when it didn’t look like I would ever travel again. Then went to Florida, then went to West Point and finally, one more trip to Florida.
The last trip to Florida would never have been possible without the tactical and logistic genius of her husband.
Joan lived the philosophy she espoused in her book. She counted the miracles and prepared for the inevitable.
All throughout her life Joan accomplished things on the strength of pure willpower alone. She was told she would never walk again after a parachute accident in the military. She was told she could not have children. In spite of excruciating pain, through hard work and determination she walked again, and gave birth to Joan and Dan’s son, Steven. She was proud Grandma Grey (GG) to three wonderful grandchildren.
We all mourn her passing.
Joan, once again I celebrate you. I toast all your accomplishments, listed more succinctly in your obituary in the Washington Post. But I celebrate and cherish even more the energy, the commitment, the loyalty and the love you have shared with me all these years. I shall stumble on without you, but in your honor.
Joan, I hope the answer to all of our prayers is: the best is yet to come for you. I pray. I hope. I believe.
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