I bought a journal not too long ago, a beautiful one, with gold edged pages, for the purpose of writing messages to my children. I keep a journal, but that’s for me to sort out my own thoughts. This one is a gift to my children for when I am no longer here. I wanted to use it to write down some of my favorite memories, words of wisdom if I come up with any. I really just wanted to tell them that I love them, and that I want them to be happy.
I wrote my first entry today. It wasn’t original. Onto the first pages I copied a poem called Epitaph by Merrit Malloy. It’s a long poem, but the last stanza sums it up:
Love doesn’t die.
So when all that’s left of me
Give me away.
Writing in this journal is so much harder than I imagined. At the bottom of the page I wrote, “I love you forever, mom.” I ran my hand across the page, and I imagined it in the hands of my children. When they held it, when they ran their hand across the words I had written, I would be gone. At this thought, the tears started falling, and just haven’t stopped.
But also, as I wrote this, I thought of my other child, Michaela. I have said that she is a shining light, and I feel it is my job to hold that light for her, but honestly, this poem really captures what I mean by that.
When all that’s left of me is love,
Give me away.
That is all I have left of Michaela. Love. I can cross my arms and hug myself, and hold that precious love. I can grieve and weep. I have kept this blog, and my previous one, Dear Michaela, which I have imported in total into this one. I have had multiple purposes over the years. At one point I wrote about Nancy Garrido, who with her husband had held Jaycee Dugard captive for eighteen years, who could possibly have held Michaela at some point. When my detective finally was able to interview them, he actually read some of my blog entries to Nancy and to her husband Philip, and they wept.
I have called out to those people in the world who knew what happened, to try to convince them to come forward with the information. I reached out to Michaela, should she still be alive, to let her know that I still love her, that I miss her, that I haven’t forgotten her. Years have passed, circumstances have changed, my already broken heart has been broken further. Now I write, and in all things, this is what I do. Love is what Michaela is, and I try to give her away. I can see it right now. I am sitting at my desk, watching the Iowa sunset outside my window, and I can feel it and see it leave my heart, fly out the window, be caught by the breezes and flow out with the winds, over the harvested Iowa cornfields, across mountains, fields, oceans. It looks, it feels, like grains of glittering sand, but it is Love. That is what these words are. They are flying to you.
It is hard to talk to people in the grip of grief. It’s not as though I can say it ever ends. It gets smaller, and the joyful things get bigger, but it never leaves. The things I really know are things I don’t think I could have accepted until I was deep into the journey. If you have read my blog, you have heard them before. It’s not all about me. This life, these things, are tiny in the course of eternity. And if we do it right, if we give away the love that is left, the suffering will be tiny compared to the gift given. Everything does happen for a reason. I have experienced too much in my life to believe anything less. That reason may not always be to make my life shiny and happy, but there is a reason. And honestly, it makes life so much easier when you believe that life has a purpose.
For me, I have an outlet, and that is writing. I have a blog, and over the course of its complete life, it has been read millions of times. I can throw this sand in the air and it will find places to land, and at least some of those places will receive them and find the love in them. Perhaps it will heal, perhaps it will give strength.
Many people set up charities, foundations, of every sort, in memory of the ones they have loved and lost. This is what they are doing: when all that’s left is love, they are giving it away.
For everyone, if you open to it, you will find your way of giving away the love. Even if you give it to just to one person, each individual person is infinitely important, and it will always spread, because it is always, somehow, paid forward.
Well, an update on what is behind this post, my metastatic breast cancer. Tomorrow I am scheduled for a broad ranging MRI, because it became obvious that the CT just wasn’t catching it. That’s not unusual with the type of cancer I have, lobular, because it grows in rows of cells, not clumps, and so far only the MRI has found it. But at my last visit, my oncologist could see it. It has grown and spread into the skin, covering a third of my upper chest area now, and she had no doubt that it was cancer. A new biopsy has been ordered for the new areas of growth, and after we have all those results, we will decide what to do next. No more pills, though. Back to IV chemo of one sort or another. This time, I am investing in wigs. I’m not even going to ask questions about life expectancy, because I know that they can’t say. It requires more assumptions than they are able to make. The last time I asked, they made the assumption that my cancer would respond to the first line treatment, but it didn’t. So I’m just going to plan still on having years. I have so many things to do, so many questions in my heart.
Meanwhile, I want to let you know that we did set up our Christmas tree on November 19th, and we did tie a rainbow of little ribbons from the bottom to the top. It was a good thing, and I have decided to make it my regular practice. Here are a few photos for you.
And for you, Michaela, if you are still out there somewhere.
To all my children, and to my husband, I love you forever