Photo of Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee… 2012
I Try To Describe… Darkness
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
All was dark around me, though it was daytime. I could see the sunshine at the corners of the world I was in… it didn’t quite reach to me. I was in a ‘dark room’ seeing the light outside beneath the door where there was a crack. This was my world for so long… no matter how much sunlight I was in.
I could see several tiny spots of sunlight in this ‘room’. This was the world I lived in… I didn’t know very much outside this dark world… sometimes, I could get to a sun-kissed spot, touch it with my hands… I wished to see the sun clearly. I would hold my face toward it, straining my eyes to see what I couldn’t see. My body wished to be out in the sunlight. I lived like this for three years… it seems like my life is full of ….. ‘threes’.
From time to time… no, a lot of times … I wished to be strong enough to escape from here. I couldn’t, my body was in a weakened state. My mind was medicated from potent medicines to keep pain at bay, to help fight the cancer in my body.
I could hear well, my sense of smell was perfect. I couldn’t see well… I could feel things but, the potent medicines had affected my fingers, my legs. My fingers seemed to be made of rubber… I couldn’t grasp things for long at a time.
When standing, I had to hold on to things to walk… oh my God, the pain in my chest… and the strange numbness that was there. The pain would roll out like an ocean wave, come crashing down on me until I was crying, almost to the point of screaming.
I didn’t help matters at all… even in my fog-filled mind… I was afraid of becoming addicted to pain medicines. I would wait long as possible to take it… making it so hard to control such horrific pain.
I had to have it removed by a thoracic heart surgeon. I had come almost to the point of dying just before having this surgery. (One year later, same month, one day’s difference… I had this same thoracotomy surgery in my other (right) lung).
Unless you’ve been through a thoracotomy surgery, you can’t possibly understand the pain one goes through… nerves are cut. I’m left with this pain for the rest of my life… it’s my trade-off to live. I accept it gladly. I can’t describe what it’s done to me physically… nor do I want to at present… I don’t like to seem ‘weak’……… I can tell you about the pain at any second… it’s always there.
My body had lost all its weight, my voice had been reduced to a whisper because the mass had almost closed off my bronchial tube. I was in such a weakened state… freezing to death, I couldn’t get warm. My body itched, I kept coughing constantly.
This went on until I was confined to my bed as we went for test … after test with specialists. I was first diagnosed with sarcoidosis of the lungs… no one knew what caused this. Soon after, the diagnosis was changed to non Hodgkins lymphoma… cause unknown, also.
What I know about non Hodgkins lymphoma is that it completely changed my whole life… at first, I thought it would be my death. I even came to accept dying at one point in time. I became interested in helping myself to die if needed…. I didn’t want to die suffering.
I remember sitting at my computer, my desk had been moved into the bedroom where I could sit there for hours. When on the computer, I could ‘forget’… time would go by before I realized it.
That’s where I met Lena, my systervan, in Sweden. She came into my life to stay there for 12 years until she, herself became ill with cancer. She died, I was devastated. She died not so long after Tommy died. Lena was a part of my immediate world just as Skip, Tommy, our Pups were. She was always ‘there’. We had such a bond… I want to cry now, whenever I think about Lena.
Darkness… I have lived alot in the world of darkness. I’ve been thinking about that all morning. I think to describe darkness such as I was in, is that it’s similar to being in a ‘cocoon’… or what I would imagine as a cocoon. Darkness protects one… but, it’s terrible when one struggles to free themselves from it. It doesn’t want to let go easily once you are a prisoner of it.
My mind still goes back to ‘just before’ having my first thoracotomy surgery… I was almost ‘gone’…. I was staying in bed under heavy blankets… in July.
I look back in my mind, my eyes half-closed… I can see that I would answer whenever spoken to, I don’t remember very much excepting I thought I had eaten, and would say ‘yes’ whenever Skip would question me to see if I’d eaten when he had to be away. Truthfully… I don’t know ‘why’ I would say ‘yes’, excepting I could hear relief in Skip’s voice.
I couldn’t ‘see’… though I did see. It doesn’t make sense. I wouldn’t remember taking my bath, doing things. Skip said I did that… I loved my baths. I’m sure that was ‘somewhere’ in my mind… I always wanted to be clean.
One time in the shower just before going into that deep darkness, having surgery…. I was in the shower. So much steam in the bathroom… I couldn’t get my breath.
My bronchial tube was almost closed off making it impossible to speak above a whisper… making it almost impossible to breathe. I was begging Skip to come help me, I was so weak. He almost didn’t hear me… I almost fainted before he helped me.
Soon after that…. darkness…….
by Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee… 12-28-2012
Darkness was my cocoon
All snuggled there unaware
Of the world that passed me by
How could I possibly know
I could see no farther than my eyelids
I could hear farther than .. I could see
I could, couldn’t feel things near my hands
Dying wasn’t on my mind, I didn’t know I was alive
I didn’t know I was alive
Because I was past knowing what either meant
I was somewhere in darkness
Where, I didn’t even know
It was scary, it was ‘nothing’
I did things in my mind
On the outside it appeared
That I hadn’t moved
I ate, I slept, I did housework, laundry
How could I know if I did or …didn’t
I’ve never known, I can’t remember
In the dark world, one doesn’t know … anything
Nothing… just ‘being, existing’
Not even knowing that
I lived… not aware if I was
Alive or dead… darkness surrounded me
I became darkness
I was alive, how could I know
I was just before dying
I didn’t know the difference
I would have never known it if I had died
At that time, I wasn’t suffering
I didn’t feel anything
It was the first time in my life
That I wasn’t afraid of dying
That’s because I didn’t know I was living
Darkness… one word that describes it all
Only one word describes death… darkness
I couldn’t think any farther than that
My mind couldn’t go any farther than
Inside my head….
Death hovered there… waiting for me
To embrace, hold me
To comfort me though…
I wasn’t aware I needed… comfort
I was alive, I was dead… I was … only the air
- That Big, Dark Cloud Of Impending Doom… (grannyscolorful.wordpress.com)
- The Pain, Grief Is Always There… I Have To Stay On Guard (grannyscolorful.wordpress.com)
- Lymph Node Cancer, Hodgkin’s Disease and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (cancercenter.com)