The Light Within – Elizabeth Blue

I’ve been intending to write of my own experiences lately, but going through Elizabeth Blue’s writing this afternoon, this showed itself, and it feels important for this time.

by Elizabeth Meagher (Blue)

2.7.09 (age 19)

The Kingdom of God

In reading the chapter “The Kingdom of God is Within” I continually return to an idea that I have long pondered.  This is the idea that ‘God’ dwells inside all and everyone and that in this way we are all One.  When assuming that God is within every human being it becomes easy to understand the nature of heaven.  To me God is the innate divinity that exists in us all.  God is the light, the unconditional love, the compassion  and the innate harmony that everyone has inside of them.  Heaven is our expression and self realization of these aspects of ourselves.  When one is fully in tune with these aspects of oneself then one is in tune with ‘God.’  When one expresses these aspects then one is expressing God and creating a heaven here on Earth.  I believe that this is what Jesus meant when he said that the Kingdom of God is within.  

The idea that heaven exists within oneself and is an expression of God is common among many cultures.  While not all cultures use the same language in naming ‘Heaven’ or ‘God’, it is very common to believe that through a connection with the light and divinity within us (God) it is possible to reach a higher state of consciousness and discover a happy and peaceful world (Heaven).  This is Jesus’ same teaching which is so blissfully compassionate.  Everyone has the ability to reach Heaven, it is always within grasp to get there, and simply requires a connection with what we already have: the light within ourselves. 

third eye, Elizabeth Blue, cat,

Elizabeth with a cat appearing in her third eye!

Keep Living

A Reason to Keep Living

This is a piece Elizabeth Blue wrote, from the period when she was going through chemo for the first time. She was being treated for non-hodgkins lymphoma which was diagnosed 2 months earlier.  The doctors had told us she had an 85-90% chance of full recovery at this point.

Elizabeth Blue, Jade Beall, Elizabeth Meagher

Elizabeth Blue, April, 2012  (photo by Jade Beall)

1.20.12

Keep Living

It’s sort of funny this thing when you have cancer.  One thing about it is when people are talking about someone who they know who has died recently, usually part of such a story is telling of how they died or what they died from.  The funny thing is when you have cancer and someone is telling a story about someone they knew who died from cancer, they chose to omit that detail.  And that’s how you can tell.  You don’t really want to ask about it (it’s a normal question, ‘how did they die?’) because you can tell and you don’t want to make the person telling the story uncomfortable.  You don’t want to make them be the one to say cancer kills to your face.

The funny thing is that when you have cancer, if you’ve had it for any length of time you had to come to grips with dying long ago.  You’re sort of over it now (that is if you’ve established that you’re probably not going to die).  You’ve dealt with that possibility and, in a sense, moved on.  You kinda have to move on.  You kinda have to move on from that idea of death if you have any intention or expectation of living.  I think of a friend who has cancer (an uncurable kind she will live and die with, but probably has a long time to live).  She told me that at first when diagnosed she was very depressed.  For about a month all she could do was be sad.  And then a friend said to her: “Tita, you can’t die while you’re still living.”  And now she sees beauty in everything because it’s what makes her so so happy and want to keep living.  I think that’s the thing, you know, you’ve got to find that thing that makes you want to keep living.  For Tita it’s beauty.  

My Godmother recently asked me what my thing was, that thing that I want to live life for.  At my age there are a lot of obvious potentials to want to fulfill.  (Having children, a husband, a career, etc.) but these aren’t palpable things you get to experience right away if you beat cancer.  They’re a bit far off in the future to put that desire in your hands, a desire strong enough to make you want to live as much or more than you’ve ever wanted anything before.  

What came to mind for me was the carnal.  Wanting to live long enough to have that amazing feeling of heartbreakingly beautiful sex with a person after you’ve wanted and been imagining it for months.

That’s enough for a twenty-something person to want to keep living another day, truly beautiful sex.  It doesn’t even have to be actual sex, it could be just the idea of it.  The idea of the hunt or the chase and the exuberant feeling of wanting someone and guessing that they might want you too.  Some days that is quite enough to keep me alive.

Elizabeth Blue ©

Elizabeth Blue’s Life in Pictures

Elizabeth Blue, Jade Beall, Elizabeth Meagher

Elizabeth Blue, 4/2012 (by Jade Beall)

Elizabeth Blue, Jade Beall, Elizabeth Meagher,

Elizabeth Blue, 4/2012 (by Jade Beall)

As we move closer to the one year anniversary of my daughter Elizabeth’s death, on September 23, she is very present with me, giving me many messages and signs that she is close.  I will share more of that in another post.  For now – I am getting the message that it is time to share this video again.  This is a slideshow of Elizabeth’s life, from beginning to end, with many of the people, animals, events and passages in her life.

The professional photo shoot done during the last year of her life was done by Jade Beall, who recently dedicated a blog post with photos and story of that photo shoot, and I will be sharing many more of those extraordinary photos soon. Here are 2 favorites.

This slideshow was created with love and is shared with love.  (And you might want to have some tissues handy…)

Motherhood – by Elizabeth Blue

A short and heart-wrenching piece written by my daughter Elizabeth Blue, while she was in the middle of her first round of chemo treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which ended her life on September 23, 2012. This was written 4 days after her 22nd birthday.

Motherhood

Monday January 16, 2012
7:57 PM

I just burst into tears. I was looking at a friends new baby and wedding pictures and I was getting teary eyed at them. I got up, closed the computer and went to use the bathroom. When I came out I thought about my daughter and the people I would want there during my labor and her birth. I thought about Victoria coaching me through labor and pain and telling me about her experiences and I burst into tears. Truly uncontrollable sobs. I’m still crying. I thought about how I might never have that and I could barely stand it. Something just months ago I thought I would never want, I want. I want so badly, so much, to be a mom. I want so much to meet my daughter Chloe Cricket Benjamin Blue. I imagined her having the same birthday as me or the day before and how it would be the best birthday present god or life or anyone could give. I want to meet her. My daughter: Chloe Cricket Benjamin Blue. I want so much to know her – the thought of not knowing her brings tears to my eyes and I can’t stop crying and sobbing and wailing knowing that it is possible it may never happen. I miss her and I didn’t even meet her yet. I tried to reason the tears away wondering if I’m hormonal or had too much coffee or am hungry. But none of these things were true and even if they were it doesn’t matter. I just want to meet her I just want to know her. I want to be born a mom, anew and born with her into a new life: the clan of motherhood.

Elizabeth Blue ©

Moving Into Grace – With Hospice

This week it has been one year since my daughter Elizabeth had 2 brain surgeries. The first one, July 19, 2012, we hoped would remove the cancer from her brain, and the second on July 20 was done to save her life (for a time, anyway), as her brain had started to swell, and the neurosurgeon needed to remove part of her skull to allow space for the swelling.  I anticipated that with these anniversaries, I would be brought back into the memories of that time. That I would relive all the sadness that came with learning that the surgery was not successful, and then that there was no more treatment and Elizabeth was not going to survive very long, most likely a couple of months.

Yet grief is rarely predictable, and I’m feeling peaceful, relaxed, perhaps a bit disengaged, but also very present.  Even when I try to go back into the story, it is not enough to move me into grief.  I was worried that I was becoming numb, but I am full of feelings, one after another, from sadness to gratitude, to joy.

I am not numb – when I talk to a new friend whose son also died, I am moved to tears when she tells me how seeing photographs of Elizabeth moves her so, and that she wishes she had lived so she could meet this amazing young woman.  I was immediately aware, however, that she would not even know who Elizabeth was if she were still alive.  Her writing, her wisdom, her beauty was not available to so many while she was alive.  And so I find myself grateful, for Elizabeth’s life, and even in some bizarre way for her death – that if this was her time to go, that she did it with such grace, and that her writing and beauty is reaching so many.

Here are some of my writings from one year ago:

July 23, 2012 (still in ICU at UMC hospital)
I stayed up with her all night, the anniversary of my father’s death. Sitting vigil, not wanting her to leave to be with him on this potent day. Praying all night to my ancestors, her guides, all the forces, asking them to have mercy. She stayed that night.

July 29, 2012 (now at home with hospice)

Yesterday was a day of almost blissful peace, radiant grace and devotion. Today, I was kept awake after reading an email depicting the possibilities of a painful and frightened death for Elizabeth, and I couldn’t sleep, wanting to find someone to blame – the surgeon, (he shouldn’t have given us false hope, when he must have known he couldn’t remove the whole tumor), my partner Zelie, (for not being here, not wanting to be here so desperately she’d just jump on a plane without asking). But knowing that there is no one to blame, each is playing her/his part just perfectly, divinely orchestrated, and I’m truly grateful that Zelie is clear about where she needs to be, and she can’t help me here right now.

So today I’m more in that shattered grieving place, almost unbearably sad, but not unbearable at all, no story with the sadness, and even with the grief and the loss, aware it’s just another feeling and I can actually enjoy the experience. My worst fears are being realized (some of them at least) and I am in such a state of grace, being with Elizabeth in her radiance and her presence, that I can be at deeper peace than in my daily life. This slowing down time is just what i need. If i go into stories of who she might have been, grandchildren never conceived and born, no wedding and falling in love, no more writing and being seen as an amazingly gifted writer… and on and on, then I can be devastated, though not right now as I write this.  Right now I see the story may all be about me anyway. Me having new “babies” being birthed, me falling in love and getting married, me writing and getting seen as my gifts, and hers, get shared with the world.

Elizabeth Blue, hospice,

Elizabeth at home in hospice with her cat Blue

Elizabeth Blue, Lucia Maya, hospice,

Elizabeth Blue and Lucia Maya, at home in hospice

Victoria (my long-time friend and Elizabeth’s godmother) just called us soul mates, me and Elizabeth. E has written about us sharing the same heart, and I am certainly in the same field she is right now. I can’t think about much other than the moment I’m in right now. Elizabeth told me, when i was telling her of her friend Cailin’s planned visit an hour later yesterday, that I don’t need to tell her those kinds of things, meaning anything beyond what is literally right in front of her.

I asked her a few serious questions yesterday: if her heart stopped or she stopped breathing, does she want us to call 911 and have her resuscitated – she said no; and if she’s alive but can no longer make her wishes known, who does she want to make decisions for her – she pointed to and named me; and finally I could tell she was tired, so I asked if there was anything we could be doing to make her more comfortable, and she said “stop asking me questions”. I loved it. And stopped.

Today when she asked me how I was, as she does after I ask her, I said sad. She said she knew, and asked why.  I told her I was going to miss her, and she asked when? I said I thought she was in the process of dying and I would miss her when she was gone. She asked what i thought death is, and I said when we leave our body. And that i’ve heard from many people who’ve died and come back that it’s a beautiful experience, more beautiful than anything in life, anything they experienced on earth. She nodded. I said I wasn’t sad about what she’d experience, I was sad about my experience of missing her, but I know her spirit will always be here. She nodded. I told her I had thought she’d always be here, and that was why I was sad.

Elizabeth’s been saying since her rediagnosis that she is going through a rebirth, and she went all the way back to the pre-birth state in the hospital: unable to speak, or even make sounds, unable to open her eyes, then being born: with the (breathing) tube pulled out, able to speak and breathe on her own, but still totally depending on others with a feeding tube and IV fluids, then removing those, and starting to swallow, to drink and eat, to speak again.  And now, at home, still dependent, and yet completely reborn, with divine wisdom and no mind. Quiet Mind she calls it. She seems to be completely comfortable and at peace.

It occurred to me, that for her to get to this state of peace, she was willing to go through cancer in her brain, 2 brain surgeries, a stroke, and now the deathing process, to move into this state of grace and divine mind. and not just for herself, but for so many around her, touching countless lives.

E’s been seeming farther away now. Not so much in her own world, as she’s been, but less of anywhere.

Elizabeth Blue, hospice,

Elizabeth Blue at home in hospice

 

And we began our journey into hospice…

All that we love…

There have been 2 dates this past week that have felt quite significant.  It was one year ago, on March 21, 2012, the first day of spring, that Elizabeth had what we had every reason to believe was the last of her 6 chemo treatments for lymphoma.  It was a day of celebration – of moving out of the long, dark winter of chemo, and into the rebirth and new life of spring.  In the months that followed, she was reborn, telling people of her journey with cancer, writing about it on her blog, going without her wig once her hair had grown in just a half-inch (“I know there is a part of me that knows bald can be beautiful.), returning to yoga, getting a new job, dating a new man, a body-piercing internship (“I got a Piercing Internship today. I start Sunday.  I’m so excited, I think I was born to poke tiny holes in people and then tell them how to heal them correctly.” June 1 2012), being photographed not just bald, but bald and naked…

Elizabeth Blue by Jade Beall

Elizabeth Blue, 4/13/12

Elizabeth Blue by Jade Beall

Elizabeth Blue, 4/13/12

Elizabeth Blue by Jade Beall

Elizabeth Blue, 4/13/12

It’s still beyond my comprehension that almost exactly 6 months later, on September 23,  2012, Elizabeth died peacefully at home, having known for 3 months that the cancer had recurred in her brain, and knowing for 2 months that there was no more treatment, and that she would almost certainly die before winter arrived again.

Just past the 6 month anniversary of her death, I’ve been surprised at how the experience of grief has gotten both easier and at times, more intense.  What is fascinating is how grief is alive, a kind of entity, with its own timing and its own movement, separate from me, yet weaving itself into my life. Showing up some mornings, and taking a vacation, perhaps, on the other days. Visiting elsewhere possibly? Perhaps I am sharing this particular grief with someone else, and it can’t be in two bodies at once?  It does visit less, but when it comes it is much more powerful  Some days I think of Elizabeth and feel simply joy and gratitude, peace. I feel at a distance from “the story” and from grief. And there are the days when everything I see, hear, eat, wear, etc, makes me think of her and the loss of her physical presence with such intense emotion, such depth of sadness…it arrives like a wave washing over and into me, embodying me, and I surrender, as long as it takes to come up again.

I had two months of being with Elizabeth when we knew she was dying, and I had time to say goodbye to her many times as she shifted and changed during that time, but the one who I’d known before that – that Elizabeth is the one I didn’t know I was never to see again, and that’s the one I miss the most. The one who told me stories about her friends, met me for coffee every week, talked about socialism and feminism and was outraged along with me about some injustice, made me worry about her choices in men, made plans for graduate school and buying a house in the desert, and loved me as only she could. I only recently started having the phenomenon of thinking of calling her to tell her about something I think she’d like, and then laughing at myself for it.  I’ve had the awareness that some small part of me is still waiting for her return, as though she were just on a very long journey, which of course she is…

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”  ~ Helen Keller

 

Coming next – emails from June, 2012, the next stage of Elizabeth’s journey…

Welcome to the Arizona Cancer Center

11.9.11

Elizbeth Blue

Elizabeth Blue, 2010, before cancer

‘Welcome to the Arizona Cancer Center’

An emotional reaction and relog of my first experience at the Arizona Cancer Center when I was sent there to have blood drawn before chemo on Friday.  Today (11.9.11) is Wednesday.  I am very swollen and can’t breathe that well.

“Welcome to the Arizona Cancer Center if that’s appropriate…?”
“This is her first time here”
“Would you like entertainment? I have some singing dogs in my office.”
What.
“I have five Chihuahuas at home.  Do you have any dogs”
“No a cat.”
“Peggy can you help me with this?”
“I have slippery veins”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Peggy is bobbing around and won’t stop trying to find different ways to look into my eyes.
They’re swelling up with tears.  ‘welcome to the Arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate.’  ‘This is her first time’ ‘welcome to the Arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate.’ ‘ This is her first time.’
Tears well up behind my swollen eyes and I hope they can pretend along with me that I’m crying cause they’ve got a needle in my arm and are moving it around hoping to poke a vein, hoping to hit time saving gold.
They will.
“I just had surgery yesterday”
WHAT
“I mean the day before.  I had an IV in”
“You have one in now?”
“No they took it out, it was in my right arm.”

A woman behind a curtain is wheeled out.  She has one eye or a bandage over one eye but I can only see one eye.  She is pale and large and her arms don’t fit in her wheelchair.  I think she’s wearing maroon.  
“They destroyed my arms in the hospital” She says, to no one in particular.

“Who is your Doctor?”  Peggy asks.  
Dr. Miller
“Dr. Tom Miller”
“Oooh the best.”
Yes.  The best.

The other one brushes my hair away from my shoulder, or maybe this is before, when I first sat down.
“Such pretty hair”
“Thank you.”
It is pretty, its long and soft and just the right color of fawn brown and the way my bangs frame my face is the way it looks best and how the fuck am I supposed to live without it.
It will be gone soon.

‘Welcome to the arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate.’
‘Its her first time’

“Can you hold this for me?”
I wipe a tear with make up in it.  There is blood on my finger from the gauze I was holding on my arm.

‘Welcome to the arizona cancer center.  This is her first time.’

A old woman who is also a patient asked if I liked purple earlier but I was wearing blue and said yes because she was probably an angel and even so I wasn’t that nice to her.

“What’s your cat’s name?”
“Blue”
I’m changing my last name to Blue to match his and maybe if I change my name the cancer will go away my mom’s girlfriend says.

“Male or female?
“Male”
“Peggy can you help me, its nearby there right?” Twist twist twist needle in my arm.
“There, look its in.  Male or female?”
“Male”
“What kind of cat?”
“Bengal”
“Oh my god I used to have a bengal!  They are the best cats.
“Yes, they’re very smart”
They are.
“Well maybe she”
HE
“can give you some comfort in this time.  You might even want to get a little treat for him or her since she will be helping you so much.”
“Yes”
Maybe some chicken.
“You know what my cats used to love?  I would get them a whole plant of catnip.  They loved that, I would put it in a planter, they would love that.”
“Yes, they really do love catnip”  I’m sobbing now.  There is a man asking where to go, they say he could go outside if he wanted.  
“Its too cold, its under 90 degrees.”
No really, he’s serious.
“I thought it was nice out” The nurse says quietly to me.
I would have killed killed killed brutally with an axe to get to breath this kind of air had they kept me in the hospital one more day.  Had they kept me inside I would have killed killed killed myself with the infectious danger of cold air to feel it pulsate through my lungs.
“I think its nice out today too.”
We talk more about the weather.  She’s blond from West Virginia.
“You have the good tape” When she starts to bandage my arm
How the fuck, did I learn in 5 days the different kinds of tape used to cover gauze and why they are good?
“Yes, I heard they were using it on horses for years before they even thought to use it on humans.”
“Wow.”
“You can go now.”
“Ok. Thank you.”  Peggy is nowhere to be seen.
I don’t know if  I should say ‘thank you, I’ll see you later’ or just ‘thank you good-bye’ so I just say thank you and rush outside because I just remembered I am a feeling being and that I’m crumbling to pieces and I’m still whole inside and these people aren’t and that woman I wasn’t nice enough to in the lobby was probably an angel goddess sent by my ancestors or god and when she left she said to her husband/son ‘c’mon let’s give this youngin some privacy’ and I realized then and felt guilty.  

And I have not seen a single person here within ten years of my age except the receptionist and she smiled at me like she was going to eat me alive like a spider meal with all her fake overblown kindness and handed me a buzzer like I’m at a restaurant and wouldn’t let me go outside or do anything except offer me some coffee or tea but coffee weakens your goddamn immune system bitch and I’m trying to strengthen mine because I’m going to have chemo soon and that’s why I’m quitting smoking, duh, to strengthen my immune system and that’s why I’m not getting my gorgeous tattoo worked on that my mom thinks may have caused the cancer.  All because one of my doctors (Dr. Brown) who I like and trust as much as you can like and trust a person you have talked to for maybe an hour total and only met twice and along with her ‘presiding, Dr. Miller (the best)’ she is supposed to save my life.  I’m doing all these things to boost my immune system because she says they will help me to not get an infection during chemo and therefore will stay alive.

And I’m sitting here writing this in my slutty halter top dress with my bleached out jean jacket and cowboy boots and cheap sunglasses and runny make up and you could see my bandage covering the cut from the biopsy if I removed my jacket but that’s fine.  I’m sitting here dressed like this because its how I always dress so fuck you.  And I’m sitting here with make up dried up and down my face waiting waiting waiting until its time to go to a different hospital and get my heart checked to see if it can withstand chemo (they think it can).  And I’m writing because I realized that’s what Mehron and Ava and I would all do in that situation and that this is a part of me now and I am a writer and I will write it all.  

And because I remembered that I am a whole living, breathing, feeling, animal, being.  
And that I am sensitive to emotions and things and one eyed people and needles and surgery around and in me.  And that this place is crazy and maybe I’m not so I need to relay it to you all.
And also because the difference between the visionary and the crazy person is that the visionary comes back.  I’m trying to remember this.
As I sit on this beautiful day in the garden of the

‘welcome to the arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate?’
No, its not.
‘its her fist time’

‘welcome to the arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate?
No its not.
‘She has a cat.’

‘welcome to the arizona caner center, if that’s appropriate?’
‘Its her first time’
No its not.

‘if that’s appropriate?’
‘If that’s appropriate…?’
‘If that’s appropriate.’
‘if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate.

No its not.

“Welcome to the Arizona Cancer Center!”
“No its not.”

~Elizabeth Blue ©