In our contemporary society, cosmetic tweaking is increasingly commonplace.  Today, it is my desire to share with my readers, my views on the topic.

When I was a little girl, I remember my maternal grandmother pinching my cheeks to make them rosy.  “You are so pale,” she would say.  She cautioned me about calling her Grandma when we would go downtown.  She was an extremely vain woman, who used various contraptions and creams available at the time, to hold up her sagging neck, and stiff corsets to hold in her relaxed tummy.  She would have given anything to have had a face lift!

She was the baby of her family and suffered a “nervous breakdown,” at around ten.  She attended school until perhaps grade six, then worked in a cotton mill in western Massachusetts.  She kept an immaculate house, and loved the car that she never learned to drive.  There are so many photos of her standing proudly next to a sleek, shiny car.

My grandmother was able to love me in ways that she could not love my mother.  Mom suffered greatly, having been raised by a cold, apparently unfeeling, critical mother.

My mother was a beautiful woman, with her own share of mental problems.  Growing up in a violent home, with parents who had married at 16, she suffered greatly.  And she generously shared her mental anguish with my father and me.

My father was ‘movie star handsome’ and mother fell in love with this outer persona, and dad reciprocated, in kind.  The way one presented themselves to the world outside the walls of our home was the primary value I was exposed to in my young life.  I know I have written about this before, because it is at the core of who I am.  Growing beyond that superficial value has been a lifelong pursuit for me.

THE most important thing was being cute.  Dressing well, having impeccably pressed and designed clothing was imperative.  When very very young, I had this message indelibly written on my brain, and that message, that value, kept me from succeeding in more important arenas for many years.

Wounded souls love the study of psychology and I couldn’t get enough of it!  When I left home at 18 to get married, I had all the time I needed to enjoy learning why people behaved in ways that were hurtful to themselves and others.

That learning helped me to understand myself, and my choices up to that point in my life.  I learned how to be the kind of mother we all deserve, but few of us really know.  I committed myself to being that ‘perfect’ mother.  And, as we all know, that is impossible.

And over all this time, the primary value I was raised with was my constant companion.  I feared that if I didn’t look perfect when my husband returned from work that he would stop loving me.  And so, even during those years that I was a ‘stay at home’ mom, I was fully coiffed, make-up perfect, wearing a cute outfit to greet my husband, every single day. 

The house was immaculate, the meal was delicious, children looked adorable, clean and well mannered, and all appeared so lovely, on the surface.  So although I knew better, by my mid-twenties, I followed the same prescription for a happy life.  Pursue perfection, look attractive at all times, and by all means, be appropriate.

Fast forward to my forties.  Divorced, attending college, searching for more meaning in my life, I found alternative pursuits that fed my hunger for learning.  I began to change.  My scope broadened, and my value system grew to include a great love of personal growth.  Enhancing my self-esteem, now included my working with kids that had disabilities, and their families.  The joy I developed through succeeding in this important work was incredibly gratifying.

Still, and in ways, more so, I maintained my obsession with looking attractive.  I began to work on my aging body, jogging, cycling, exercising at studios.  At the time, Retin A was a popular cream designed for treating acne that had a side effect of recucing wrinkles.  I used it faithfully.  Collagen implanting in the nasal labial folds was another current method of eliminating wrinkles.  I had that for a few consistent years until it backfired; I became allergic!

Even later, as my values grew ever wider and my interests broader, aging became difficult with the accompanying loss of attractiveness.  I remained fit, but noticed every new line and imperfection with dread.

In my sixties, I had a face lift.  They called it a “mini,” because it didn’t include the forehead or neck.  I loved the results!  Society had grown to value youth and a youthful appearance to the extent that this procedure was becoming extremely popular.  In the world of work, one had to compete with a younger, brighter, technologically astute generation, often using Retin A and botox, in their twenties!

Maintaining the youthful look I achieved from the mini lift was vitally important, so I had Botox and Restylane, a wrinkle filler.  I had these administered by highly trained and skilled physicians, so the look was very natural.  I felt geat!

And, Dear Readers, you know “the rest of the story.”  Now, I have ALS, a term I swore I would never use to describe my illness.  I hoped that if I could avoid saying it, it would not be so……

You will be surprised, I believe, at this point, to hear me say that I don’t regret a single one of these procedures!  In fact, I am so grateful that I had the means to do it and the intelligence to select only the best practicioners.  Yes, I have grown in innumerable ways throughout my lifetime.  I believe that along the way, I made a difference, but I never lost that underlying desire to present myself well.

Even now, I give it my best shot, most of the time.  The irony is that the mask I must wear in order to use the bi-pap, leaves big grooves in my cheeks, and the straps that hold it in place, does crazy things to my hair!  The grooves that were once filled with Restalyene now look deeper than ever, as if I never had an ounce of work done!  They fade by the hour, thank goodness.  But, I am caring less and less with each passing day.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to style my hair.  When it is too difficult, I pop on my Jane Fonda looking wig, apply a bit of make-up, and I’m good to go!

My focus has changed in so many ways, as you know.  But, I must emphasize, feeding my need to look attractive is something that I do not regret.  If I hadn’t broadened my scope and just focused on that, I am sure that I would have many regrets at this point.  But, I remember well how wonderfully I felt after each little cosmetic tweak, and I smile.

My husband has seen me in every possible way.  Looking my best, and, God knows, at my very worst.  And he loves me more than I could ever have hoped to be loved in this life.  And THAT, Dear Readers, is the happy ending of this story.

Advertisements

Lately I have been wondering about how I perceive all the changes in my life.   It is like I am another person, watching every move, every experience and noticing every change.

Always pursuing perfection in my appearance, down to the most insignificant detail, I wonder now why I do not experience shame, fear or embarrassment as it becomes more and more obvious to everyone I meet that something is very wrong with me.  I still do everything I am able to present myself well; as I have written in earlier posts, my appearance has always been important to how I feel about myself.  When I look good, I feel good.  I have confidence.  But now, regardless of how attractive the outfit, or how carefully I apply my make-up, or style my hair, I still look weird.  That is a harsh way of putting it, I know, but it is true!

When I first noticed weakness in my legs, I was able to control my gait with some effort and hide the symptoms of muscle loss.  I would walk more slowly.  Now, however, there is no hiding anything, and no desire to either.  I wonder about this, as if I am someone else looking at myself under a microscope.

It is so difficult to hold my head up that when it flops down, it takes an enormous effort to move it back up on my shoulders.  Sometimes, I cheat by using my hand to lift up my chin.  Once it is sitting up correctly on my shoulders, it stays there without a great deal of effort, unless I have to do something.     For some reason, walking up stairs is a challenge, and my head typically drops down and stays there until I reach the top, but if I hold onto a railing, I am able to hold it up.

Tonight I was walking Mollie around our neighborhood .  Slowly and laboriously I made my way around, Mollie walking slowly too, such a good girl.   Two neighbor women came out when they saw me, gave me nice hugs and wished me well.  I wondered how I must look to them and I realized that they and most others feel really badly, watching me struggle.  I used to worry about people pitying me.  I am no longer concerned.  I have come to know for sure that people are inherently good, kind spirited, with a great capacity for empathy. 

I do not particularly enjoy this!  But I do love seeing my long-held belief about people realized.  My illness has brought out the best in people.  Even strangers are caring and helpful.  It was rather amusing the night recently, when I took Christopher, my grandson the dancer, to the musical American Idiot.  I went into the ladies’ room before the show started, and when I reached the cubicle, I was unable to unbutton my pants!  I had to walk out, holding my pants like a child, hoping someone could help.  Admittedly, I received many strange looks in that first few seconds because of the sight I presented, but also being unable to speak I was forced to gesture toward my buttoned pants and try to speak the word “help.”  It sounded like a grunt.

Finally, I approached a woman as she entered the rest room area and she was kind enough to help me.  When I was finished, I prayed that I could rebutton them myself, and these  prayers were answered.  It was a bit embarrassing, but not to the degree that I might have expected.

I guess it comes with acceptance.  Acceptance of our circumstances makes life much easier.  I am reminded of the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer: God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  I have come to know the difference.

It was a gorgeous spring day; all the flowers are in bloom and many trees are still blossoming.  I took a ride on my scooter, with my iPad in the basket, hoping that I would encounter someone along my way to say hello.  Soon, a neighbor out for his daily walk approached.  I grabbed the iPad and wrote: There is more than one way to walk, and more than one way to speak.  We both laughed, he gave me a loving pat and we were on our way.

And so dear readers, I will continue to walk in my new cumbersome way.  I will use every ounce of strength that God gives me to hold my head up high.  For I am not ashamed, or embarrassed.  This is my journey; my sacred contract with God.  I will give it my all until the very end.  This is my promise to myself and to all of the wonderful people who love me.

My Whole Family

Dad and I shuffle along the sidewalk with Mollie, for her last outing of the day.  We are both tired, after a long but wonderful day with our family.  Dad is 95 and I am 70.  Arm and arm we shuffle together, because he is very old and I am very sick.

Shaun, Nancy and the three boys arrived in Denver with my dad for a visit.  The first time we have all been together in one place in too many long years.  Five cousins getting to know each other better than Facebook allows.  They are in bliss, and so am I.

We meet at daughter Kim’s house.  I cannot express my gratitude adequately.  The house is bursting with more love than usual.  Shaun and beautiful wife, Nancy, J.C., Conner and Brennan, Kim, Mike, Katie and Christopher, Dad and me.  Only J.C. has been in Colorado before and we have a great western welcome for our loved ones.

The wii offers an effective way to break the ice.  The laughter of my grandchildren touches my soul.  I enjoy watching them as I look for familial similarities.  There are many; some have the same lips, nose and eyes, all have qualities from the spouses of my children as well.  They are beautiful and handsome.  All good kids; polite and kind, thoughtful and cheerful.  Happy families are these and I am filled with gratitude.

As usual, Kim is the gracious hostess and Mike the gracious host.  They create a warm and welcoming atmosphere which we all appreciate.

On Friday, everyone comes to our house to meet Mollie, Yogi and Boo Boo.  Mollie is out of her mind with joy!  She has begged for a boy of her own to play with since we brought her into our home as a pup.  Now there are four!  They throw the ball and she gleefully returns, hoping for another throw.

A trip to Rocky Mountain National Park amazes everyone, even those of us who have lived here for over 16 years.   While our family runs to  check out Bear Lake, Kim stays with me so that I can administer my feeding, a first for me while on the road.  It works perfectly.  When all return we head up the road a few miles to catch a gorgeous vista and photograph the whole family.  My heart is so full, I wonder if I can handle all the love…..it is a feeling like no other.

A quick stop in Estes Park for candy apples, Shaun stays in the car with me.  We share tears of joy, and then laughter as I write words on my iPad,  change accents and the speed.  The result is hysterically funny and we laugh like there is no tomorrow.  I believe that families share a sense of humor and I can laugh with my dad and my children over situations that may elude others.  In this moment, Shaun and I are one in our shared sadness, and in the catharsis of our laughter.

He is a sensitive one, my boy.  He was such a caring little boy, who took the best from his dad and me.  His dad taught him how to be a man, a father, a leader and so much more.  I taught him about loving the less fortunate, being kind and cherishing beloved animals.  He has grown into a man his dad would be very proud of, as I am.  He has a very responsible position and he shares my belief in honoring people who work for you, giving them a fair shake and being sensitive to their needs.  He has a staff that appreciates his caring and responds with loyalty.  When I was working in organization development, I tried to train leaders to be like my son.

On Sunday evening, Kim planned a night at the Grizzly Rose, a country western dance house, with mechanical bulls.  It was wild!  Some of the kids learned to dance, and all the kids rode the bull, including Kim and Shaun.  We laughed until we were dizzy.

A tearful goodbye in the parking lot, because all were leaving very early in the morning.  As I held my son, I wondered if it would be the last time.  I knew, I know, that the memories we made last weekend will warm my heart for the rest of my days.  I can only pray that we have at least one more visit from my beautiful New Hampshire family. 

In the meantime, I have conjured up the countless memories we made.  I look at the photos of each face remembering their smiles, their laughter and I am grateful.  I am able to re-experience the love, the fun, the silliness with almost no effort at all.

I am left with these comforting thoughts.  In our lives, so many things happen that we are proud of, things we regret, and we have many choices.  To forgive or hold onto anger, disappointment and pain.  Living life in the way that God intended requires us to emulate the teachings of Jesus.  While this may not always be easy, I believe it is the right way, and when we make choices that we know He would not make, we lose. Everyone loses.  And so, on this Easter morning dear readers, I ask you to open your hearts and take in all the love and joy that is there for you.  It is a simple choice, and I believe the only right one.  God bless you.

Lately, I have given a great deal of thought to my former life, before ALS.  So many little, seemingly insignificant parts of my life that I assumed would be mine forever.  The losses are adding up and I am mourning losing them.  The amount of time that this disease has taken over what I think about distresses me.  It has gone from fear to concern about how much longer I can hold on.

The vibrant energy that was always mine;  endless energy which I always tried to put to productive use.  Today, I am so weak, it takes so much focus to go from my chair to the kitchen and back again.  I am in disbelief as the energy fades, in tiny but cumulative chunks. That endless energy rated high on my quality of life scale.

Yesterday I toodled around on my scooter for about 45 delicious minutes.  I saw children playing, hair flying in the breeze as they ran delightedly through the park.  I heard the birds gayly singing all around me.  And I encountered many people enjoying their bikes while I past them in the scooter.  I remembered 25 years of cycling and how it enriched my life.  But I am grateful, even now, that I have a means to enjoy the wonders of springtime again, even though my method of transportation has been altered.

I mourn the loss of the quality time I was able to spend with Mollie.  Even a few weeks ago, I was able to throw the ball for her and reward her with her favorite snack when she brought it back.  Today, I barely have the energy to walk for 10 minutes, and Chris is concerned that I wouldn’t have the strength to hold tightly if she came upon a coyote.  Yesterday there were two in our yard!

And so, Mollie leans her head longingly on the window sill, looking outside.  She is a very smart dog and knows very well how to yank my chain.  I’m sure she wonders why it doesn’t work anymore.   Chris does so much to give her adequate exercise, but I miss those fun times we had every single day.

The only food I am eating these days is applesauce and some ice cream.  I miss spicy Mexican food, and lobster, fresh vegetables, especially salad with rich balsamic vinegar, cottage cheese and slivered almonds.

The fun times with my husband at fine restaurants, and giddy conversations with women, wine and good French roast coffee.

I miss the mall!  Yes, I do!  Going into the stores and seeing all the cute new styles for spring and summer.  Selecting a few things to add to my lovely wardrobe.  Now, I search for more silk pajamas online because it makes turning over in bed so much easier.

My neck is becoming weaker as well.  It is very difficult to keep my head up without leaning on the back of a chair.  There is no in-between.  Head flops forward, all the way down or sits upright on my shoulders.  When I am typing, and holding it up for very long, I must rest because the pain is growing in my upper back.

I know this is a real “downer” post.  I sincerely apologize for speaking this negative truth.  But it is so real and I cannot help wondering how much longer I will be able to write in this blog.  I can assure you, dear reader, I will continue to give it my all, even if I have to do it in smaller segments.  It is that important to me.

And now for the parts of my life that have grown.  I am acutely aware of every single negative thought and word that I express, in criticism of another person.  There is a very efficient warning bell that goes off prior to my putting the thought into  words on my iPad to share.  Most of the time, I stop, think again and let it pass.  But I must confess, I sometimes do it anyway.  It happens less and less and I am reminded of all that we share as human beings.  I know that I am in no position to judge another for I am guilty of the same transgressions that I am criticizing!

I have acquired  a degree of patience.  I am seldom in a hurry.  I move slowly and notice everything.  I ask myself, “What is important?”

My illness has evoked in my husband a tenderness that I had never seen.  I never doubted his capacity for loving, but I could not have imagined how he would give 200% of himself to supporting me in every way.  He is the most amazing gift.  I cannot help but think of all the lonely people who use online matchmaking services, hoping and praying yet doubting that they will find love again.  I want everyone to know it is indeed possible to meet the love of your life in your fifties, just as I did.

I have learned so much over my lifetime and much of it has to do with how to be successful in relationship with a significant other.  After the luster fades and real life sets in, it is so important to look for goodness; catch your partner doing things that make you happy and let them know how much you appreciate them.  Instead of hanging on to little slights or disappointments, share them in the kindest of ways and move on.  Be tender.  Be thoughtful.  Don’t wait for your partner to do what you want them to do!  Be in love and don’t hold back.  Trust me, they will respond and you will be glad.  All too often, we allow old hurts from previous relationships to color our current ones in a negative light.  This is very common and a huge mistake.

I watch Chris now as he helps me every single day in innumerable ways, without being asked.  He gives of himself generously, knowing that our days together are numbered.  He tells me I look pretty, and he means it.  He gives and gives and gives and I realize how lucky I am.  We both laugh now when I tell people it took me three years to convince him to marry me.  And we are both glad that he finally gave in to my urging.  We are happy together.  We wish we could grow old together……

And so, dear readers, as I acknowledge the countless losses that I have had I must remember what I have found.  I share this with you in hopes that you may look at all the gifts you have and be in appreciation.  Pay attention to what you think about and the tallies you make.  I pray that you track all of the blessings, abilities, and kindness, and ignore the disappointments.  Love generously, your own life and the people within your sphere of influence.  Nothing is as important as this.  God bless you.

Our Daily family came to visit last Thursday.  When I married Chris, I inherited two wonderful adult children, Quinn and Andrea.  Quinn and wife Sarah are parents of Kila, of whom I have written in the past.  They have created a life in Bend, Oregon.  Andrea and husband Bill live in Carbondale, Colorado where both are pursuing their college degrees.

It was so good to be with all of them, especially Quinn and family who we haven’t seen since last June.  Kila has grown like a little weed, all legs, freckles and strawberry blonde hair.  Sarah is one of my closest friends.  Being with her is so very lovely…..we seem to be twin souls, sensitive women with a shared perspective on almost every subject.  We sat together on Monday, drinking in the Colorado sun and one another, each of us knowing that this may be our last time together.

They bought flowers and planted them in my garden.  Kila was in heaven!  She dug her little holes for the perky white pansies she had selected, patted them down and watered each one lovingly.   Such important work for this sweet child, who continues to amaze me with her high-spirited nature and precociousness. 

So often, while they were here, she came to me, put her arms out for an embrace.  She looked up at me with the seriousness of a very mature person and said, “I really really love you, Gigi.”  She makes my heart sing.

My daughter Kim and husband Mike joined us for dinner on Sunday evening.  This blended family, so appreciative of the aligned values we all hold dear, enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Sarah and Quinn,  and great conversation.  The ease of being together so lovely, as if we have always been a family.

Quinn helped Kila create a video of pictures of us with great music in the background.  Photos that I had forgotten: when I snuggled in to touch  her hairless baby head; wedding pictures with all of us dressed up for the wonderful occasion, a special one of me looking up at Chris, the love penetrating his mirrored glance.  Ah, those memories, so dear to all of us.  We watched it together with tears flowing all around.

A funny segment included in the DVD, was of Sarah, almost nine months pregnant.   Quinn interviewed each of us asking each of us to guess how much the baby would weigh.  All of us were a bit tipsy, except Sarah, of course.  I was able to hear my voice again and watch my animated face.  I was so silly, enunciating each word in a very theatrical manner!  It was hysterical!  I said, “that is the real ME!”  I was happy, carefree, enjoying my family and the anticipation of a new grandchild.  I loved seeing myself as myself, knowing that the “me” of today is different.  The “me” of today is quieter, more reflective, of very few words, succinctly tapped out on my iPad.  I feel so grateful that my family will have these movies to remember my true essence.  To be fair, there is still a part of me that is silly and irreverent, just not as pronounced in my personality as before.

I miss that “me.”  I feel as if my life has become like a dandelion in late autumn.  The bits of fluff flickering away in the breeze, piece by piece, never again to return to the original flower.  And I am sad.

Everything changes.    My scooter finally arrived after much anticipation.  This enabled me to join everyone at the Denver Zoo on Sunday.  It was so much fun to be able to enjoy all of the animals,  and the experience with my loved ones.  Different but still delightful.

And so, we accommodate the changes and I mourn the parts of myself that have been lost.  I know that my husband and my family mourns the loss of those qualities that they loved and admired.   They support me with physical assistance, emotional strength, and acceptance.  We talk honestly about everything.  We make arrangements for when I pass, accepting my invitation to select books from my library.   I believe that my openness is helping.   We share this journey as a family, grateful for the love we share and the fun times we’ve enjoyed together.   It is all good.

 

Hospice came into our home last Friday.  Two lovely women representing the Boulder Hospice were so kind and helpful, gently offering information.  The three of us, Chris, my daughter Kim and I were relieved to find that they would honor my wishes regarding having no extraordinary interventions to keep me alive.  They offer comfort, and support.  Their goals are the same as mine, and that came as wonderful news to me.

What is difficult to comprehend is the cumbersome funding mechanisms of Medicare.  Because of two different federal funding streams, all the equipment that was provided by Apria, the bi-pap, and oxygen concentrator,  the suction machine, all have to be replaced by similar equipment that is provided by Hospice!  I thought that wouldn’t be a problem, but the bi-pap was so different and uncomfortable, I now must adjust to a new one.  They were very accommodating, and changed it for me, but it was difficult and not without some discomfort.  I am so grateful to have the support that Medicare provides, but it seems to me, the bureaucratic nonsense could be simplified, by keeping the same equipment and simply changing the funding.  I would think it would be considerably less expensive, as well.

Emotionally, even though at this point, Hospice will be minimally involved, it still is a major step.  But a necessary step that I am very prepared to take.

It is not without some chaos, however.  All of a sudden, countless phone calls, people coming and going to get me set up, was overwhelming.  We live a very calm, peaceful life in our home, with few intrusions upon our quiet life.  On Tuesday, I wanted to run away, and Chris did, too.  We were both upset about the bi-pap and my inability to speak added to the chaos.    Then, a major problem with the site of the feeding tube erupted.  I thought I had an infection because it was bleeding.  The Hospice nurses came, they called my GI doc and he had me come in this morning. 

Thank goodness, it was better today.  Dr. Dolan, a kind man with a great personality, reassured me that the body wants to get rid of the tube.  Not unlike a pierced ear, the hole will close if the tube in not there.  The cause of the bleeding was not an infection as I had feared, but more of a normal bodily response to a foreign object permanently placed.

I was very sad to have to cancel another planned trip.  I was so eager to go to visit my son, his family and my dad early this month for two weeks, but last week I had to admit, I would be unable to do it.  My stamina is fading fast, although some days are better than others.  I am not strong enough for that long journey even if I used a wheel chair at the airport.  Chris worried about my getting stuck in Chicago overnight, with no oxygen.  I was worried, too.

For all of my adult life, I knew that I was strong and resilient.  If I made up my mind to do something, I would do it.  I worked like a fool keeping our home squeaky clean and orderly.  I seemed to enjoy endless reserves of energy.  It has been hard to let go of this quality.  It is still primary in my mind, but I can no longer count on my body to carry out my plans requiring strength and stamina.  Even climbing the stairs at home is exhausting.  I find myself using the railing to help myself up the stairs and I wonder, who is this stranger in my body?  Or whose body is this?  Certainly, it can’t be mine.

Yesterday, I found myself with a bit of unexpected energy.  Could it be because I injected Starbucks French Roast right into the tube?  Funny, I had thought about this a great deal when my swallowing became so ineffective and I couldn’t seem to ingest the same amount of coffee that I was accustomed to.  When I watched the movie made about the man with ALS that I wrote about recently, I saw his mom give him iced coffee to inject into the tube on a very hot day in Massachusetts.  I thought, Wow!  I can do that!

Mollie and I walked around our neighborhood, while the birds were chatting gleefully all around us.  They know spring is right around the corner.  I saw the grass greening everywhere around me, and the buds on the trees swell.  The sun felt so warm on my hungry face, and when I gazed at my garden with the dead remnants of fall flowers, I noticed tiny green shoots everywhere!  My neighbor stopped by and I pointed them out to her with the excitement of a little child.  I grabbed her with a big hug, I was so happy!

I then walked over to my little tree, a forest pansy, planted late in the summer, with the promise of delicate blooms this spring.  I touched it lovingly, told it I found it truly beautiful.  Talking to plants does work.  We are all one. 

Next week, Quinn and Sarah and our little granddaughter Kila, will visit us from Bend, OR.  They were sick a month ago when we were supposed to go  there.  Andrea and Bill will come as well.  The following week, my son Shaun, and his wife Nancy, their three wonderful sons, and my dad will visit, since I cannot go to them.  In April, my best gal pal Lisa will come from Maine.  Will this be goodbye?  Do we ever know?

I believe that there are many blessings to count when you have a terminal illness.  Especially if you are at peace and able to acknowledge it honestly with family and friends.  People are generous with their loving feelings and offers of help.  My husband offers to prepare my feedings, making it easier for me when I am weary.  He has shown such abundant love for me with a gentleness I could only have dreamed of.  He has risen to the challenge of my illness with gargantuan strength and tenderness.   

People are really good.  Goodness, kindness, compassion and love are everywhere.  It has always been so.  Not just now, because I am dying but all the time.  Let us be aware of that goodness surrounding us and focus that awareness sending the goodness back.  We all need that love.  God help us all to let it in.