Birds in flight inside the American Museum of Natural History in NYC

“I asked her, ‘Aren’t you afraid?’ She touched my face and smiled. ‘No. Not at all.’

‘How can you not have fear?’

‘Because I have you. You are the strongest man I know.’”

He stopped for a moment, emotion stealing his words.

“The tumor doubled in size in 7 days. I don’t know what to do, how to help her… how to let her go.”

I have had so many conversations like this, two just this week. I always marvel at how the afflicted can be so strong, so full of peace and resolve even as those around them are falling to pieces. 

What sets them apart? 

There have been times in my life where I have been so depressed I have prayed to die. 

Please, God, take me in any way that you see fit…

But I was never peaceful about it.

I have fear. So much fear.

Fear of suffering. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the loss of control. Fear of being known for who I really am.

Who am I?

What sets them apart?

How do you come to terms with dying? 

“She says she will see me later, that it isn’t really goodbye.”


Is it possible that it is simply faith in love… love which takes many forms… that gives us peace?


86 thoughts on “Flight

  1. When I was a Care Aid one of my favourite parts of the job was caring for those that were dying. There is something about them that’s peaceful. They always seem to be the kindest people too. Having said that it’s so hard losing them.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. My heart goes out to those people, and to you. I cant imagine being the bearer of such news.
    I think it is faith in love, in its many forms, I truly do! Faith in self has to be a part of that, as I believe that’s the core is what diminishes those fears of being out of control and truly known.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find that peace now, instead of in the face of such adversity?

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I think faith has a huge role in the peacefulness of some terminal patients. I hope that when I go it is with dignity and peace. I have a friend who is going through this now. She fought breast cancer and beat it only to get liver cancer which has not responded to traditional treatments. She found an alternative treatment way on the opposite coast and tried that. No response. So now there is one last glimmer if hope. They are going to try a treatment that made her too sick to continue in the past but the doctor thinks that now that she hasn’t had any other medicines in her for awhile her body might be able to tolerate it long enough to work.
    So she and her family have been going on trips and doing a lot of the things on her bucket list. Now she is focusing on her funeral. She has picked out her dress and her makeup and a makeup person to put eyebrows on her since she has none after the treatments. Today she posted about the gravesite she has chosen, the headstone and the casket, etc. She is so calm and at peace while everyone around her is already in mourning for her.
    I don’t know the answers but I think that I would rather be in control of as much as possible and be as strong for others as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. After posting my comment above, I read through the comments and have more to say. I guess I can’t shut up!

    First, the friend that I referred to above also posted on Face Book that at her last doctor appointment, they also discussed end of life and it was a big relief to her to find out that liver cancer doesn’t cause a painful horrible death. She was told that the liver has no nerve endings that would feel pain so she won’t be in pain. She will be extremely tired and sleep a lot and one day she just won’t wake up. That has given her some comfort, knowing that she won’t be in pain and that her family won’t have to watch her being in pain. She plans on staying home to the end.

    Second, you know about my recent diagnosis and how it was wrong. The oncologist, when he first told me I had 3 to 5 months, was very blunt. No preparation. He breezed in and out of the room in less than five minutes. He joked and laughed the entire time he was there. He gave me the news and then left his staff to get the releases signed for surgery. I didn’t like him at all. I walked in thinking I would have a quick surgery, chemo, and radiation and then hope for the best. Instead, he told me it was inoperable and I had three to five months, maybe a bit more if I responded to chemo. Then I had the surgery and the diagnosis was wrong. No cancer. None at all. I still had a lot of complications and had to have several follow ups with this doctor. Each time I saw him after the surgery, he was nicer and nicer and a pleasant, caring person. I almost wanted to keep going back to see him even if I didn’t need to. I told my daughter about it after my last visit and she said “That’s because he doesn’t have bad news to give you anymore!” And it made sense then. When he delivered the bad news, he was uncomfortable too and it made him handle the whole thing badly. Now that the news is so much better, he’s very pleasant and can be more comfortable with me. I guess there needs to be some training of medical personnel so they can learn to handle giving bad news a little better!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. This resonates. I have struggled my whole life with being sensitive and not letting this gift crush me or overwhelm me or wish me away from this world. I have and will continue to build my toolbox of strategies to support myself and others. But through it all I believe love is the only way to get to peace. Thanks for your message today.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Um, no. I have a lot of love in my life and I am most afraid of leaving this earth before my children are grown. All I can imagine are young mothers crying out “NOOOOOO!” as their souls ascend. Let me get them grown, Fear.
    Dying doesn’t scare me, but I echo the sentiment of the former comment — I don’t want to suffer as I’ve seen some suffer. I am afraid of the suffering. Strangely, the suffering don’t seem to let on and we suffer FOR them or whatever. I don’t want that. Ugh. Heavy post is heavy.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. None of us knows how we will face this. I don’t think anyone should feel bad if they think they would be scared. I read something recently about how Doctors can know ease patient out if they want that. That was a comforting thought to me because I do not want to suffer before I die.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, it is. Love and faith are a tower of strength, and that’s why those people are calm and unaffected. I have no fears of dying and have always been this positive way. On the other hand, my brother is terrified. Nothing I say can help,him. Perhaps we’re born this way

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Faith and love and faith in love are the biggest helps. There’s also this thing I’ve seen in people who are close: When one person is hurting, the other person rallies to comfort them. In healthy relationships, we take turns. That’s my theory anyways. In theory, I hope I will face my death as an adventure. But it was hard to write “my” before the word death, so it might be a scary adventure. First, I want to have a few more adventures in this life.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fear is the vampire of life. I know. I just wrote a post about being afraid. My post is more about changing and how fearful I am. But it the sense of your post, which was timely for me, I realize that love will see me though any change i need to make. Love from my hubby who supports this change. Love from my friends who hate how I have become. But mostly, love for myself. That is the biggest change agent. Thank you Doc, for sending words that I so desperately needed at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My son Christopher and I had many conversations about life, death and the reason (s) we are here. What our purpose was/ is. He told me once that when it was time , when his purpose for being here was complete then it would be his time to go. Even if it was a penny from a skyscraper falling to the ground and hitting him on the head, when it was is time then it was his time. That was his belief. For me, I no longer fear death. Since the deaths of my sons Christopher and then Michael two years later, FAITH is all I have. I live each day knowing/believing that one day I WILL see my sons again. Blind faith? Maybe, but it gets me through each day, so I will take it. My youngest brother was given his death notice and he is living with hope but preparing for the worst, but there is a calmness in him now that wasn’t there in the beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Predetermination gives me some bit of peace, too… the fact that when it is my time, there is nothing I can do to stop it. That fact also gives me the ability to live more fully. Is that choice or this one going to alter the course of my life in some terrible unalterable way? Instead of becoming paralyzed by all of the implications of the permutations of every decision, there is a higher power in charge and it takes a lot of the burden off of me.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Profoundly stirring, Victo. “faith in love… love which takes many forms… that gives us peace” “…For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is so beautifully written and moving. I truly understand the dilemma, Have lost a few close people in my life. My sister is on the path of transition with pulmonary fibrosis. She is about the business of living at the moment once all the details were worked out. We miss those that leave us but they are never far from our hearts. I struggled with so many things years ago. Why do bad things happen to children and good people and those that do harm never seem to have bad things happen to them. Years of study in so many areas brought me to the most unusual place for answers that left me with a peaceful feel about all that is. I’ve just had another chest x-ray to see if the interstitial “fluffiness” in my lungs is anything to be concerned about. But like this post read, some days I am so tired I think I want a way out. it passes quickly when someone suggests I might be out of time. The will to live is very strong but the peace of knowing it isn’t done yet helps a lot. Guess I’m more fortunate than many as I have always known this isn’t all there is, just all we can see at the moment. Thanks for sharing this and starting the conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your writing is so beautiful. I can’t imagine having to have this sort of conversation with people; telling them that they will soon be facing their biggest fear. I suppose the peace is in resignation, in acceptance.

    When my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, it was the first time I contemplated death and after death. I found a book from a woman who had a near death experience, and became curious. Dad lived with cancer for 25 years and was scared of death to the end. I could never talk with him about “after you’re gone” type things. Synchronistically, when he passed, I was taking a class in communicating with spirit. Perfect timing. He was finally free.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prostate cancer is one of those slow going evil things for many people, the anvil hanging over your head alway reminding you that death is waiting in the wings. What a terrible thing to live with for so long!


  15. Is it possible that you have defined what it is to be human ?
    I think so.. In fact, I have no doubt..
    Beyond each of our nature of selfishness and inflated self importance, there is ingrained knowledge of the real truth..
    Without love and the courage to love, there is no meaning to life..
    I have prayed for charity in my heart and graciously recieved that ability to love..
    At times it’s still a struggle to feel that deep compassion but I know it is there.. You’ve written one of the most important posts I’ve ever read.. Good for the soul, life changing for those looking for answers.. This is where to begin..

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I wish I knew. If I did, I could pass it on to my daughter who lost the love of her life. Almost 5 months ago now.
    But I don’t know.
    I’ve seen my mother. Slowly. And we were both strong.
    I’ve seen my father die. And I was strong.
    But, now? I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh, and thank you for post, as usual, “Victoria”. You’re not only a good doctor, but a great human being.
    Most (of both categories) don’t even ask themselves…
    (PS. When I reach your weekly delivery in my mailbox, it puts a smile on my face. I know there will be some very good stuff…)

    Liked by 1 person

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