21 Feb Unloading

As we enter the fourth year of Jill’s terminal diagnosis, we’re surprised she’s lasted this long. For the past six months, her cancer antigens plateaued in the 800s (normal is 30), which meant the cancer was still doing its dirty work but not as fast as usual. But the latest PET scan (today) shows that the cancer has invaded more of her liver. From the start, this has been Jill’s most vulnerable organ. And very likely this is how she will die. Her oncologist has canceled her current treatment, which has clearly exhausted itself. He says he wants to try  a new treatment, which will no doubt be Jill’s last.

We’ve run an exhausting obstacle course of psychological, emotional impediments, the most trying of which is that, increasingly, Jill and I are on very separate paths. I can hardly fathom the journey she’s taking and, similarly, she can hardly apprehend mine; and so we’ve grown apart in our dreaming, Literally: my dreams transport me to the future, hers drag her back to the past.

Jill’s been reviewing her life, trying to make peace with her mistakes and missteps, her reconsiderations and regrets. It’s not been easy, all of that avalanching onto her here-and-now. Of late she’s been focused on unloading her possessions. We’ve sent bag after bag to Goodwill; sold her vintage clothes and shoes to friends who have a vintage clothing business; handed over boxes of family photos to her brother; auctioned artwork and knickknacks; and so on. Ironically, it’s like she’s getting ready to leave the country for distant travel. In her closet, there now hang only four shirts and two dresses. She’s kept her jeans and t-shirts.

I’ve been striving to take care of her, the farm, my various involvements, foremost of which is the Writer’s Retreat. When I tell Jill my near-future plans for the Retreat, she says, “I’ll be gone by that time.” No bitterness, no anger, no self-pity: she’s just stating fact, a practice that’s become a habit—to keep things real. Her hope is to be alive to vote in November, though she admits this is an iffy proposition.

She’s annotated our cookbooks and taken time to show me her many baking tips and tricks. I’ve never been a good baker (too impatient with precision recipes), but I’m determined to learn. Just one more element of preparing for “after.”

A work in progress

To stay focused (and, frankly, distracted) I’ve immersed myself in household projects. Sometimes the house feels like an aged boat I must prepare for a journey: my journey. Keep at it, I tell myself, this boat must sail.

Tomorrow we’ll learn about the new treatment. We’re told it’s weaker than the others but it might work for a while.

Jill’s Go-Fund-Me page

Help if you can!