I was unable to attend Rachel's memorial service, but watched some of it on a live stream. I felt a little weird about it -- voyeuristic -- but when I tuned in, I was touched and humbled to hear Gayle Sulik read some of my words and to include me in her speech to Rachel's family and friends. How much I didn't know about Rachel pre-cancer was apparent as well. Like all of us, she had a life before and even during cancer treatment that she didn't necessarily share. During the last six months of her life, Rachel became increasingly sick and disabled. She had lung collapses and lost the use of her dominant left hand. As she put it, her world was shrinking. In know in those last few months, her virtual connection to us was essential. But it wasn't everything.
I'm taking that cue from her in dealing with grief. Losing Rachel, losing Susan, and losing Ashley feels awful. But I can't let it be everything. I still see darkness and light in the days I have lived in the last month. To paraphrase Jack Gilbert, to make our anger and sorrow the only measure of our attention is to do a disservice to the life itself; to this gift we have; to this magical chance we have to begin again.
I'm consciously turning my attention toward honoring these women, as the gloriously imperfect and wonderful human beings they were.