Difficult and dark / easy and light

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.


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