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November 01 • Grave Calculations

Day 480

A neighbor I first met barely a year ago stopped by my house yesterday just to chat. In the course of the conversation, Chuck let us know that the doctors have projected his life expectancy to be about four months. While continually smiling, he told us about his pains — physical and emotional — and about his decision to stop all chemical efforts to arrest his slide into mortality, or perhaps immortality.

This decision did not sound like a step toward giving up. On the contrary, Chuck seems to be prioritizing clear thinking and valuable time with his relationships; he wants to live more than he wants to stay alive.

I don't know why this resonated with my recovery, but I couldn't help thinking about the courage it took to say 'no' to something that was offering the 'only hope' he has to stay alive. Instead, he has put everything in the hands of his Higher Power without any conditions or expectations of prayers being answered in particular ways.

It may not be a direct-connect correlation, but my chemo — my medication — was sex and alcohol and isolation. Those were the tools that were destroying what I wanted while searching for something that would take it all away.

I have a hard time applying courage to my decision to attend recovery groups because that would be an act of something approaching positivity, and I still have trouble ascribing much of me to goodness. That is selfish and leads to wallowing in my shame, but it's a lot better than when my only direction was down, and my only hope was for quick destruction.

And then there's Chuck who wants to live, but not at all costs.

I don't know how to end this post, but I hope that by the time I have to face my living end, I will have acquired the wisdom and courage to not be desperate.

I do want to live, but not at the expense of not being alive.



Don't want to go by the devil,

Don't want to go by the demon,

Don't want to go by Satan,

Don't want to die uneasy,

Just let me go naturally

–Blood, Sweat & Tears, ”And When I Die"



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