Lisette was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in early 2005. She had the
best treatment the world has to offer. The best doctors, medicines,
care, love, prayers, and on June 6th, 2008, she died anyway.
When she was sick, there wasn’t much room for anything but being with
her. Spending as much time with her as possible. As she became sicker
I found myself increasingly incredulous by the horrible things the
cancer did to her. It was like a monster movie. And it just got
grosser and grosser until I wanted her to die so she wouldn’t have to
keep going through what surely was hell on earth.
When she died, I thought we over the worst of it. I didn’t realize
there would be a whole another realm of grief. I hadn’t thought about
the time I won’t have with her. The meals uneaten. The wine undrunk.
My body untouched and light as air when I should have her iron strong
arms around me. My anchor, gone.
I always think of her moving. All that crazy black fluffy hair flying
around and her big brown eyes sparkling and never never stopping. Even
when she was sitting still you felt this undercurrent of movement all
around her. Some kind of electricity. There was nothing sleepy about
her, she was always rushing forward to see what came next. We used to
laugh about how we could just imagine her and Jimmie in the womb, her
pushing her way out, yelling, “lemme outta here!” And Jimmie just
being cool. So easy to guess who came out first. Our girl, Lisette,
running, hiking, yoga, hunting, moving, cooking, cleaning, praying,
gardening, going, going, gone.
She fought it so hard, man, did she try hard. Did everything they told
her to do. Swallowed every bitter pill. She never really believed she
wasn’t going to beat it so that when the end did come around I think
she was actually surprised to find she was dying. How could it happen
when she wanted so much to live? She had so many plans! She and Papa
were about to retire. All those years of hard work were to finally pay
off. She was so devoted to her pets and finally found herself without
any in the house so that she could travel without feeling guilty about
going away without her friends. She suffered to leave her pets. She
and Papa were going to Ital . She and I were going to India. So much to see! She was the healthiest of all of us! We couldn’t
believe it when she got sick. How could this dynamo be stopped? She couldn’t! She wouldn’t! But she did.
Even she hadn’t made the
concession that she might die in her own head so that when it did
actually happen, she really wasn’t ready. “Wait!” she kept saying,
“WAIT!” But, soon enough pain blotted out any grand ideas of getting
well or even going on. And then the blessed morphine...
I loved her so much. We got so gypped. My poor Papa… and Jeanette…
Grandmere. I wish she could meet my boyfriend, I finally have one she
would like. I miss talking to her on the phone. I still want to call
her all the time. I miss sitting on the deck with her, watching the
sky. Loving on the dog. But, mostly just having here alive.
Breathing. Living. Here.
Ovarian cancer is disgusting and painful and mortifying and no one, no
one deserves such an inhumane sentence, least of all my sweet fluffy
headed stepmother. She had so much life and so much love in her and
she was so scared of dying. There is nothing good to say about any of
it except maybe that she isn’t in pain anymore, but what kind of thing
is that? I try to tell myself that she is everywhere with me now. So
now I see her in every big bright full moon. I think of her when I see
hummingbirds, and taste anchovy and smell amber. And then I think about
her smile. And how she smiled when she was dying, just like she hadn’t
seen me in a long time and was… just so heartbreakingly
happy to see me... I’ll never get over that.
So, if you knew Lisette
and you are reading this, I am sorry for you, too. She was an
exceptional person and the world is just a little worse off without
her. This hike is a chance for us to do some good in her name. I
think she would have liked that.