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
encased
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.

14 Comments

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  1. Nancy's Point - February 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Oh, Jan, this is so beautiful. Thank you. Rachel will live on in our hearts and through our written words.

  2. Ronnie Hughes - February 14, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Lovely Jan, we must all keep writing. Especially with such a muse snarking at us to get on with it!

  3. jhasak - February 14, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Absolutely, Ronnie, absolutely. There’s no excuse now! XOXO

  4. jhasak - February 14, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Thank you so much, Nancy. Rachel indeed lives on…we won’t let the flame even flicker, let alone burn down. XOXO

  5. BreastCancerSisterhood.com - February 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Jan,
    Even if we can’t cure cancer or solve one another’s problems, just being present for each other is more than most people do. This community of bloggers and breast cancer sisters show up for one another each week, again and again, and that is huge!

    As I read about your missing hair under your wedding veil, I tried to imagine how you must have felt. It wasn’t vain of you to worry about how you looked that day. Everything we feel is relevant to that particular point in time in our lives, so you can’t compare that day to what Rachel went through. Your feelings were as valid as were hers.

    XOXOXO,
    Brenda

  6. AnneMarie - February 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Dear Jan,
    Yes, keep writing…. and I will keep reading and commenting… and sending love and continue to widen our global circle of cyber support. And, I’ll stamp my feet like a petulant child DEMANDING someone pay attention to us…

    xoxox
    AnneMarie

  7. jhasak - February 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Brenda, yes, just being present for each other on a regular basis is absolutely huge. I look forward every morning to the posts and comments that others have already made that morning in earlier time zones. My mornings wouldn’t be the same without these conversations with real-life friends. And thanks for the reminder that it’s okay to feel down even though our problems are so minor compared to those of others. We need to be honest and real about our feelings. Thanks for your reassuring response. XOXO

  8. jhasak - February 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    AnneMarie, I will do just that, and will also keep reading and commenting on others’ blog posts as you are doing. Stamping our feet is just what the doctor ordered in our world where blogging CAN make a difference, when cybervoices WILL be heard. Thanks for stopping by. XOXO

  9. Beth L. Gainer - February 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Thank you for a beautiful posting. I haven’t felt much like writing, but this posting has helped me know that Rachel would’ve wanted all of us to keep blogging and expressing our truths and voices.

  10. jhasak - February 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Beth, I’m so glad that this post reminded you that Rachel would have us write no matter what happened. She was stalwart in her zest for life and making a difference. Thanks for stopping by. XOXO

  11. Being Sarah - February 21, 2012 at 11:53 am

    TY everyone. Keep writing. Rach wanted CHANGE… and we must keep writing to get people thinking differently about breast cancer culture.
    Sarah

  12. jhasak - February 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Yes, we MUST keep writing. Rach left us with no other option. Altering mindsets about breast cancer culture presents a tremendous challenge, but we can do it! Thanks for your comment, Sarah, and for all your love surrounding our beloved Rach. XOXO

  13. Remembrances « - February 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    [...] Those who love her, and are inspired by her, continue to absorb this reality and try to keep on keeping on. It’s not [...]

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