15 Apr 11 Months

roof of the garden shed

I thought I saw a hummingbird yesterday day, so I made a batch of sugar water and hung the feeder, promising myself that I’d keep up with the birds this year. Already the barn swallows are back, whirling over the fields. It seems early for them. The peepers are noisy in the ravine by the river. Two, maybe three, green frogs are active in our pond, as are the fish. Bumble bees and wasps are nosing around our many outbuildings, searching for a home. I’ve just erected five new blue bird houses. Had our property not come with a name already, we would have Christened it Bluebird Farm, we have so many of these very special birds. 


Surrounded by our bassets–Maisie and Oliver—and our extra friendly barn cat, Scrapper, Jill has started spending time on her chaise longue near the pond. We are now in the fourth year of her prognosis, and it’s hard to tell how this journey has altered us. I mean, Jill’s end is integral to who we are and we talk of her death almost every day—without gloom or tears. That’s not to say we’re “ready.” I don’t know that anyone can get ready for something like this. Nonetheless, we’re at the point where nothing much surprises us. 
Jill’s last treatment failed to work more than a month ago, but—even as the cancer continued spreading–she had to wait for new treatment because her oncologist couldn’t proceed without a confirming PET scan, which Jill’s insurance allows only twice a year.

She’s now on a treatment so new (Jan. 2023), it costs $650,000. a year. It promises to keep her alive for 11 months, if she can tolerate it. Her insurance company is willing to foot the bill for those eleven months and no more. We’re not sure what percentage we’ll have to pay. There are limits, of course. Jill feels terribly guilty about this. “I’m ruining your life!” she says. I assure her she’s not ruining anything. If we lived in a country with more humane healthcare, “ruin” wouldn’t even be a consideration.

our ancient ornamental cherry

So: 11 months. I’ve promised to take Jill to see some horses nearby when she’s feeling up to it. Maybe some sheep too. Simple pleasures. Making meals for Jill is one of my pleasures. Though she doesn’t eat much, she retains an appetite and is thoroughly appreciative. Last week’s favorite was butter-smash biscuits with mushroom gravy and pan-fried sirloin. Tomorrow it will be something with filo dough. Or who knows? Sometimes I surprise myself. Like I said, small pleasures.

Jill’s Go-Fund-Me page

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