It was with a very heavy heart that I heard of the passing, on October 17, of my friend and colleague, Alison Dewar. Alison was diagnosed with breast cancer just about a month after my kidney cancer diagnosis. Last fall, Alison, while undergoing chemotherapy, was telling us about how she was going for 30 minute runs, adjusting to a no-bacon, all-cruciferous veg routine, and looking forward to being back at work, traveling, and enjoying red wine and single malts.
So it hasn’t seemed possible, given that Alison was such a ‘force’, that she has really left us.
When Diana asked me to help out with remarks at Alison’s memorial service on November 4th, I had conflicting feelings. I was honoured to be asked. I was afraid I would lose it and not be able to get through things. And finally, with a resounding leaden crush, I felt it might just be possible that what everyone was saying was true – Alison was gone.
It’s been a rather hard month since. There were about 10 days I couldn’t really manage to get up. Thought this was about the fatigue from Sutent, but possibly some of it was grief/depression. Visiting with Diana a week after the service, and spending time subsequently with a few other mutual friends, I’ve regained a bit of momentum and have been able to get going again.
This weekend, I had the wonderful ‘Team Toronto’ visit – triple towers Kristin, Margaret, and Rachel. It felt right to shop and cook, make up their beds, and think about fun things to do. It felt even better to visit; hear about their families and lives; break bread; listen to music, have a relaxing spa day; walk dogs; giggle; and connect.
Today we did a tonglen meditation, and breathed in pain, hot, dark, heavy; and breathed out light, cool, bright, fresh. I breathed until I acknowledged and accepted my pain and grief; and breathed out until I radiated compassion, clarity and relief. I did tonglen for others suffering pain, grief, hardship; and breathed out and hoped I radiated some clarity and freshness and hope to them.
And now I’m remembering Alison, who radiated compassion, clarity, and hope; and the memory of whom continues to do so.