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My son's father's sister has pancreatic cancer, stage 4. Which means there is nothing doctors can do other than make her comfortable until her death. They suggested chemotherapy, but they didn't press the subject.

Having a death goddess as a deity of choice means death is not frightful to me. So I forget that other people are frightened by that final passage.

I sat in the hospital room after her surgery, with some of her friends and other relatives, when the doctors were telling her what she has and what they could do to help. I watched as all the people fell into denial. I listened to the chatter after the doctors left. There was talk of a clinical trial cures over in one corner, the power of positive thinking in another corner, the miracle of prayer in a third.

A social worker came in to talk to her about advanced directives, living wills and DNRs, and she was shooed out by all the "well meaning" friends and relatives.

I was so frustrated by level of fear and delusional thinking, I left the room. And I took a deep breath and another. And I walked back in and I held my tongue and I was gently supportive. Because I want what's best for this gentle, compassionate, independent woman.

Don't get me wrong, I don't discount the possibility of a miracle. But none of us make it out alive, and there are some practical things that need to be done. And done soon.


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September 2012

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