Anne Elliot: [In a sick chamber] What instances must pass before them of ardent, disinterested, self-denying attachment, of heroism, fortitude, patience, resignation: of all the conflicts and all the sacrifices that ennoble us most. A sick chamber may often furnish the worth of volumes.”
“Yes,” said Mrs Smith more doubtingly, “sometimes it may, though I fear its lessons are not often in the elevated style you describe … Jane Austen, Persuasion
Dear friends and readers,
I’ve been writing this blog with a central focus on the Admiral’s cancer since the end of April, and as of two weeks ago it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to write on. Each time I wrote up until we were told about the diffused metatastic cancer in his liver, I would wait until either a new event or happening had occurred or (usually I made it the same event) something hopeful could be or in fact was construed out of what happened. Or I saw something generally exemplifying from personal life that was real and therefore could have use for others in lieu of falsely optimistic stories. I can no longer write with such a frame of reference. I realize that writing in public is quite different from writing a diary to the self; the eyes of others changes the meaning of the text and the text functions socially. For some my blog might become lugubrious, and sorrow in this USA when publicly expressed directly is often not respected; I have meant to generalize as I went along, to show our case as exemplifying this or that trend in modern US medicine.
Nonetheless, I want to and will try to write on. I have a need to reach out to people, and the Admiral and my life has been locally a life apart, situated in and with one another. Since 1995 (18 years now) that has changed and I have become far more social and been much happier in the worlds of the Net, learnt a lot about different social worlds and joined in with them in physical reality when I’ve gone to conferences, visited friends abroad or very occasionally far away, in NYC too. I know my teaching changed as a result of my better comprehension of how most people react to all sorts of things, not necessarily (still) getting their motives or why they do what they do, but at least an realization of patterns of behavior which I get better at coping with, reacting to. I will in the not far future be alone in my local area except for my two daughters. I’ve made an effort to become friendly with one neighbor and know a few others. I shall have to bear up alone, a widow. How much of my farther away social life (conferences say), travel I will be able to try I can’t say. How I shall find the strength to do this when most of my life all I have done (even at my job) has been partly dependent on the Admiral I know not.
So I will continue my story in order to continue to be with others. I am making an effort not to contract back to what I was and what my daily life was like say in the mid-1980s before I returned to teaching and got a position (however marginal as to salary or place) teaching in senior colleges English literature, reading, writing, here in Virginia. This is all I can manage today about where he and I are.
My pussycat, Ian, has undergone a change in personality. Very carefully, warily, he comes to the front of the house when we have visitors. He wants to play and be friends with people. He sidles up to me a lot more and we’ve gone back to his sitting in my lap late at night when I’m watching movies and/or DemocracyNow.org, reading, writing. I have to watch lest they upset the wires — a new dread.
A friend tells me a large proportion of the women our age (over 55) live alone: either divorced, widowed, never married, separated. I find that to be true in my neighborhood where continually however the neighborhood has changed, there have been lots of older women living alone. She also reminded me of the mortality statistics that show as many men die before 76 (ah I would have compounded for 12 more years for him — 12 just think of the time) as after.