Yvonne Ator writes:
My friend Kerri Grote died this morning. While I am still processing, I wanted to share the words she left to be read upon her passing. Life is short. I hope they bring you perspective, inspiration and healing like they did for me. R.I.P Kerri. I love you.
“If you’re reading this, this fu$king brain cancer probably got me.
But let me be crystal clear while I’m able: I did not ”lose a battle” against cancer. This is a ridiculous, steamy pile of horse shit that society has dumped on cancer patients. Western medicine, and Western culture, especially, is so uncomfortable talking about death that instead it created this “battle” analogy that basically shames people who die from cancer.
News flash: None of us gets out alive from this rodeo called life.
There is no shame in dying from cancer – or any serious illness. And it doesn’t need to be a battle. It’s a transition that each of us will go through. I was asked by a shaman, whom I spoke to after my second brain surgery, “Are you running towards life or running away from death?”
Whoa! That got my attention.
There’s a BIG difference. I got it wrong more often than not.
Don’t let fear fuel your choices. Live fearlessly. Run TOWARDS life. Don’t worry about what people will think. Trust me, it doesn’t matter.
Focus on you. Be true to yourself. Be your own best friend. People who tell you you’re selfish are not your people. If the voice in your head says these unkind things, get a new voice. Honor your mental health and seek out a good therapist with the same vigor you’d search for a romantic partner.
Speaking of, be intentional about cultivating friendships that lift you up. As those friendships grow and change, don’t overlook them while you search for that “great love of your life.” (No, I’m not suggesting you sleep with your bestie. But you do you!)
Another unhelpful message that we get from society is that we need a “love of our life,” as a romantic partner.
Single and childless when I was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, I looked around my life and came up sputtering and sobbing from the wave of grief washed over me. I thought I’d be doing this alone… no husband, no kids, no “great love.”
How wrong I was. At the first appointment with my neuro oncologists, one of the nurses diligently hauled in chair after chair for the great loves of my life who came with me that horrible day and many days after that.
I sat and listened while the doctor explained the 12-month treatment plan, focusing on my breathing, then looked around the room…. filled with great loves of my life: incredible women friends whom I had met at various stages of my life.
Surround yourself with people who contradict that unkind voice, people who see your light, and remind you who you are: an amazing soul.
Learn how to receive these reflections from your people. Because they are speaking the Truth.
Love yourself, no matter how weird and silly it might feel. Every morning, give yourself a hug before your feet hit the floor. Look deeply into your eyes in a mirror. Say to yourself, out loud, “I trust you.” That voice in your head might say you’re a dork. Ignore it.
As I prepare to leave this body and embark on this mysterious journey of my soul, I hope these observations from my deathbed are somehow useful.
What I know, deep in my bones, is that learning to love myself has led me to be able to say this: I’m so proud of how I lived.
May you, dear reader, feel the same when you head out on your soul journey, too. Until then, enjoy the ride. And always eat dessert first, especially if there’s pie!”