A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Dealing with Disease

This is a topic that I struggled with, first with my mother, then a year later with my father. My mom suffered from emphysema. The doctors figured it was a result of having grown up on a farm during the times of a lot more manual labor. She had also been a smoker,  and worked in the hospitality industry when smoking was prevalent in society. She suffered for several years, as the disease progressed, until she finally had to be hospitalized. She delayed this until near the very end. After she passed away, my dad who had always been a man who got things done, even during a crisis, was lost. He felt as if half of him was missing, which after over 45 years together as a couple, was understandable. I have written n other entries about the loving egalitarian relationship my parents had for each other. After mom’s services dad became more of a home body, only went out for coffee regularly with a couple of his friends. He didn’t seem to have the same energy. A few months later, doctors found an inoperable tumor beside his heart. He had one round of chemotherapy and radiation. When the tumor was found to be shrunken, but still there he decided he would not undergo another round. Talking with him, he talked a lot about mom being gone, and he was ready to go. He proceeded to wrap everything up, so when he passed on to the next life, he carried nothing undone. Neither of my parents even considered assisted suicide, as that would only lessen the length of suffering. It would not remove the cause, nor bring benefit, after death. They also believed that you tried to enjoy every moment you could in this life. They both lived in the present during those times, remembering the good times of the past, and leaving the future to be determined. So I hope if I ever am in that situation, I can exhibit the same mindfulness, accomplish what I can, say what needs to be said, and leave the future to develop as it is intended.

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