Easing the passing to the next world

Today was supposed to be a happy and fun day. I would join my cousin to view coffins of the Amun priests at the museum of antiquities, and blog about that. Unfortunately, she had to work unexpectedly, filling in for an ill collegue. We’ll go next week, but I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks.

On a more serious note, the mother of one of our closest friends was hospitalized today. She has been fighting cancer for some time now and is about to lose the fight. The doctors estimate she has days, weeks at the most. Our friend, my husband’s best man at our wedding, has dealt with cancer before, but a compatible donor saved him. He has been clean for over 10 years, but has to face a far more likely, negative outcome with his mom.

I feel deeply for them. As you might know, I lost my mother to cancer as well, which means I have some idea of what they’re going through. Nothing, however, can be done to cure her now. I wanted to do something anyway. So I turned on some soothing music, lit a candle and prayed for her. Then I made something to put on my altar for her. I did not have many conscious thoughts about what the picture should look like, but this is the end result. I chose the runes not for healing per sé, but more to ease her passing into the next world, which seems inevitable.

imageUr for the strength to face what is coming, both for her and her family.
Berkana for reincarnation, or afterlife as she is Christian and believes she’ll go to heaven (which is undoubtedly a soothing thought), and for easing of her pain as well.
Dagaz for the light of the days she still has left, enabling her to make the most of them.
Eihwaz for life and death, as she is now on the edge.

I will not tell that I have done this, though obviously I’ll be there for them whenever they need me and they know I feel for them. They would probably not feel very comfortable if they did know. But I just hope it helps, if only to ease her pain.

What would you do in a situation like this?



Another story of cancer

This night, my grandfather died. Of cancer. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer some month ago and decided not to undergo any treatment. He was 83 years old, the treatment would have left him without a stomach, depending on liquid food for the remainder of his life and with heavy chemotherapy. That is if he would have survived surgery. So he decided not to do anything about it.

My grandfather was a very active man, though that became less when he moved from the house where he had lived with his wife to a new room in nursing home. The emotional value of the house and everything in it was huge, and it cost him so much to work through it and decide which things to keep and which things to throw or give away. One cousin has some paintings, I have his old bed and his books were either donated to the church or given to his (remaining) children.

His collection of Bibles was donated to the church, for example, though he still had plans to start a new Bible study. And he wanted to follow another course at the University of Leiden, as he has done before with all different kind of subjects. He enjoyed it so very much in his new home, drinking coffee in the morning with all the other people, delicious warm lunches, friendly nurses and a very nice room. He still had his friends and family coming over and he was happy as can be almost a year ago when we were all there celebrating his birthday. With all the grandchildren we gave him a nice enlarged photo of the five of us. He enjoyed that so much! I think it still hangs in his room, though I can’t be sure as I didn’t visit very often.

I did visit him past Tuesday, after my aunt adviced me to go. She believed it might go very fast, which it did. When I went there with my cousin, he was lying in bed and hadn’t come out in a few days, except to go to the toilet or get washed. He didn’t enjoy lunches with his friends from the nursing home anymore, nor could he read. He was awake when we came and though he claimed not to have much pain, he was not even close to the grandfather I had known in liveliness. When only tired he would normally sit in his chair and simply sleep there, but his staying in bed gave away much.

I’m so glad I went to see him. I don’t think my younger brother did, and he is having a very hard time now, I know so much. We celebrated the birthdays of two cousins yesterday, and one of them stayed with my brother, because he couldn’t be alone. A good thing, I know now, because he would have cracked if there wasn’t anyone with him this morning when he heard the news. For my cousin it must be very difficult as well… He turned 16 today…

My grandfather is the third in the family to die of cancer, though again it was a different kind of cancer. As you will have understood, he was a devout Christian, probably convinced to go to heaven (though I can’t know for sure because we never spoke of it).  It must have been a comfort for him to know he would see his wife again, who died 21 years ago (my mother used to tell me I was her gift on mother’s day, just being born, and she died 2 months after). And he would also see my mother and her sister again, who he has had to bury 4 and 8 years ago. Though he has left us, he has done so peacefully in his sleep, at peace with the situation. 

Though neither he nor my mother will be around when my cousins finish secondary aducation or when I graduate at university or, most important to me, at my wedding day in June, I take comfort in the idea that they are probably together. And they will be there in spirit, as we will never forget them.