Rachel revisited: Keep writing! Keep writing!

  • 13 February 2012

Ice storm in New Jersey

Today I heard a moving series of tributes to an eloquent and lovely blogging friend named Rachel who passed away from stage IV breast cancer well before her time. I didn’t know her well, but did leave comments on her blog The Cancer Culture Chronicles from time to time. Unfortunately, my own non-cancer life spun out of control before I could seriously engage in regular blogging conversation. But those who spoke in New Jersey last Saturday at her memorial service clearly loved Rachel dearly. Friends came from all around the world to speak or simply be present in support of this larger-than-life woman.

The service ended with an incredibly touching love-note from Rachel’s husband Anthony. Anthony urged–no! insisted–and reiterated–that all writers in the packed audience keep writing. They must keep Rachel’s spirit alive in the blogosphere. She would want that.

Anthony himself is a remarkable man. He’s one of the 75% of husbands who don’t leave their wives because of breast cancer. In fact, he did the opposite, as I learned from viewing the recording of the service: he married her AFTER she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rachel resorted to the use of Velcro to keep her wig from coming off as they tied the knot.

And here at my wedding I had bemoaned the fact that I had had a bone spur removed from my skull a few days before. Under the not-so-opaque wedding veil, my long hair was draped over one side of me in a badly done comb-over.  As I said in a previous post about Rachel, everything must be put into perspective. Who was I to be so vain and complain?

Now in California, I resided a few decades ago in New Jersey where Rachel’s memorial service took place. Hence, the photo of the ice storm. The juxtaposition of ice, sky and steeple evokes the bittersweet beauty of winter that now besets us in the trail of tears following Rachel’s passing.

Below I share a poem I dedicate to Rachel’s memory from a chapbook in my poetry library:

This Little Life

This little life
doesn’t matter
except to the spirit
in the shell of smooth flesh
watching starlings
settle for the night
an otter tumbling
in spring freshet
the scent of wisteria
scrambling up a tree by the road.
So much suffering,
so much beauty,
all the spirit can do
is be present.

From End-Cycle by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Rest in peace, dear friend. You are “still here” in our eyes and will live on in our continued writings. You will assume a new role as our muse. And we hope you will be amused by our rantings.