November 13th, 2009:
Three interesting moments in my journey forward that appeared in the last few days.
The first is that I have started to chew gum to counteract the dryness of mouth that comes from using a lot of opiates. Chewing gum stimulates the saliva glands in the mouth so that a moist, even over-lubricated oral cavity results. But, back when I was pre-adolescent, say 8 to 10 years old, one of the most dismissive, even funny expression that we--my pals and I--could ascribe to someone was that they were a drooling fool. This meant that they were old, goofy, out-of-it. They were uncoordinated and no longer held together. Falling apart, and well, drooling. So I've been noticing that my gum chewing has placed me into the category of becoming a drooling fool. I salivate a lot and as the stream of drool starts to creep from my mouth, I can hear my voice from the past say: Drooling Fool, Drooling Fool. Yep, that's me these days.
Over the past days, I've settled into the structure of the book I'd like to create. A book much more focused on how other people can creatively approach gathering together their friends into a circle of support rather than just talk about me. So, first section will focus on the centuries-long avoidance that other people have felt about the dying process. Second section will be about my history as an end-of-life caregiver and the steps I've taken to reach out to other people to bring them closer to me and my illness.
Third section will talk about how large hospitals and clinics can form support groups where people who have accepted their end-of-life status can join together to form individual planning sessions. In these planning sessions, the terminally ill can reach into themselves for finding the new ways to reach out to their loved ones. Reach out and find ways to create intimate circles of caring. Initially, the book was all about me. Now, the book is mostly about others. And, having made this contribution, I will put it out there on the current of trust and send it on its way. I can't create a new movement, but I can help with the call for better communication between the living and the dying. It's significant and humbling to write a book that's immediately handed over to someone else. It's an exercise in trust to write and hand this over to someone else.
Finally, after breakfast on Tuesday, I came back to my room and started reading the morning paper until a nap took over. In the nap, I don't remember the person, I think they were Asian, young, friendly and they held their arm out to me. I held my arm out to them also. In fact, when I awoke, my arm was in mid-air, reaching toward them. I had heard of this gesture from one dimension to another, but I had never experienced physically holding my arm out toward someone who wasn't in the room. It startled me, and I thought, "OK, it's starting to happen. I'm starting to reach toward the next other side."
Drooling, getting myself out of the way so my book has more inclusion and more resonance and getting ready to make early contact with hands reaching out for me. Little steps forward, a day at a time.