Elizabeth’s 24th Birthday

Dear Elizabeth,

it’s your 24th birthday, and you’re not here, and you’re very much here.  I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to spend the day, but I knew I wanted to do some ritual to honor you, and also something to nurture myself, some way of tending to my body – my “flesh and blood holder of humanity” as you wrote so eloquently.

Then a couple of days ago I saw someone announce on Facebook that she had an opening for an ayurvedic massage today, and that seemed perfect – it showed up and presented itself, so I said yes.  Next I realized this was the day to take some of your ashes up to Mount Lemmon. I know you loved it there and it was the other place I knew I needed to leave some of your ashes before leaving Tucson.

First thing though, I shared one of my favorite poems of yours on FB, A Lifetime.  It feels to me that it says so beautifully what you wanted to do, and what you did in this lifetime. It makes me happy to know you even thought about all of those things, and then that you got to experience it all…it’s quite extraordinary.

After my relaxing massage, I was ready to drive up the mountain. I packed up your bundle of hair, carefully wrapped in one of your scarves, and a shovel.  I still had the hair you’d saved from when going through chemo the first time, and I know you’d intended to do some kind of burial ritual, so I wanted to complete that for you as well.  I took some flowers, and then filled a small glass bottle with some of your ashes to offer to Mt Lemmon.

I drove up with Tilly beside me, wondering all the way where the hell we were going, and both of us were relieved when I found the right spot to bury your hair.  Tilly was happy to walk around under the pine and oak trees, and I easily dug a spot for your hair in the soft ground, covered it with dirt and pine needles and put the flowers on top.  It felt like there were bears nearby, maybe watching me, and I am certain they’ll come and sniff around at some point.  I could feel their presence in the trees…

Mt Lemmon, Elizabeth Blue,

burial of Elizabeth’s hair

Elizabeth Blue, ashes, Mt Lemmon,

ashes on Mt Lemmon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got back in my car and drove further up, looking for a place with the really incredible stacks of rocks.  I asked you (and I’d been feeling your presence all day of course), where you wanted me to place the rest of the ashes – did you also love those rocks, or was I just imagining that, since I love them…? I heard you say that you do love them, and, to remember that where the ashes go is about what I want, that it no longer matters to you, you’re not in those ashes. You said that you love that I’m taking the time to do this ritual, but it’s for me, not for who you are now…I could also feel the ways that we were, and are, so merged.  That there are times that I can’t tell whether it is I who likes or experiences something, or you.

I trusted that I’d just know, and sure enough, I saw those rocks, with a parking area, and with Tilly leading the way on her leash, I realized there’s a beautiful area to walk down and among the rocks.  I’d been there before but somehow never saw that, even though there were many others walking down that way! I meandered down a path, down to where there was just the view of Tucson desert I’d been envisioning, and placed your ashes in the corner of some huge rocks. It was out of the wind, though I know not for long. And slightly off the main path, but there will be plenty of people coming through.  Along with the immense natural beauty, there was also graffiti and cigarette butts, and it seemed the right place for some of your ashes to rest.

You were such a combination of the ethereal and very much of this world. When you were little, making up words and dances (like the “hatdeck” when you were 3, and fufia and kufia – were they unseen friends?), seeing spirits, writing poetry and loving the Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child. Now you seem to be truly at peace, in the angelic world of the ancestors, and yet, you come down and play Angel from Montgomery today on your birthday, which I haven’t heard in months! “To believe in this living, is just a hard way to go…” yes, sometimes it is.

So, my sweet girl, though I miss you deeply, and can still hardly believe you’re gone, I am mostly feeling at peace these days. I hear that you want me to be happy, and mostly I am, though I know it’s fine to be sad too, and that crying actually makes me happy at times.  I was afraid that this second year, and now your second birthday after you died, would be harder, as some experience that.  I’ve found thankfully, that it’s easier with time.  I can feel your presence ever closer – almost merging, and yet further away, as you’re more diffuse, more spread out, though still very available when I need to connect.

I know that you know all of this, but I wanted to put it into words, to help me remember this day, and share it with others.  You make my life so beautiful, along with your sister, and I’m so grateful!

love,Mom

Notice the orbs and the lights (including purple ones) that showed up in these photos.

orb, Elizabeth Blue, spreading ashes,

One View

orb, Elizabeth Blue, spreading ashes,

The View from Mt Lemmon, where Elizabeth’s ashes were placed – note the orb and lights!

Elizabeth Blue, ashes, Mt Lemmon,

View from Mt Lemmon

Leaving Her Body…

Elizabeth Blue, Jade Beall, Elizabeth Meagher

Elizabeth Blue ~ April, 2012 by Jade Beall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One year ago today, the email below I sent to our close friends and family. Now I share it here, with those of you who have joined me on this transformative, healing journey.

As I prepared for this first anniversary of my daughter Elizabeth’s death, I anticipated it would be challenging. I’ve been learning how to care for myself, my needs, better and better throughout this time, so I asked close family and friends to gather, a very small group who knew and love Elizabeth (and me!) dearly, to come and spend time together.  We’ve spent the last couple of days telling stories, looking at photos, doing art projects with Elizabeth’s image, eating, laughing, resting, loving Elizabeth and each other…

We plan to begin the process of releasing her ashes today, spreading some in one of her favorite places in Tucson, with plans to spread more in Berkeley and Hawaii later, two of her other favorite places. I honor her and remember her every day, and oddly, today doesn’t feel as momentous or intense as I expected – I’m wondering now if the emotion will come when everyone leaves and I’m alone again…in this first year, even the hardest days have been fine, as I’ve watched myself experiencing emotion like never before, and always able to be aware that it will pass, that all I need to do is be present and keep trusting my heart. Thank you all for being here with me in this first year. Your presence from near and far, old friends and new, strangers and family, has meant so much. I am so grateful for each of you. Thank you.

Leaving Her Body

September 23, 2012

Dear Ones,

Elizabeth left her body this morning around 4:30 am.  She was peaceful, she knew I was right with her, holding her hand, talking to her and loving her. Something woke me at 4am, and I went to check on her. As I heard her breathing, I knew she was very close, and sat down to be with her.  I was thinking it could be a few hours still, so was about to lay down on the couch, when I heard her take one breath, and then realized it was her last one.  Her heart continued for a while…

Since yesterday morning her breathing had changed, and Greg (her dad) and I had spent the whole day sitting close, talking to her, telling her how much we love her, and how many people love her and have been affected by her.  She was mostly in another world, but every few hours would open her eyes, and was still so clear, with the same love and grace in her gaze.

I am so grateful for the gentle waves of these passages, that each new wave has washed over, giving me time to adjust, to accept, to move into the next stage gracefully, diving in deep and emerging with an ever more cracked open heart, and knowing there’s still more and still more….

As usual, we are doing something a bit unusual – we are keeping Elizabeth’s body at home for a few days, having cleaned, anointed and prepared her body ourselves.  We will have a visiting time here, for anyone who is in Tucson, if you want to say goodbye to her body, and connect with me and family.  She will be cremated in a couple of days.

We are also planning a large, public memorial service in 2-3 weeks.  We will honor and celebrate her life, with music, stories, photos and her poetry.  Do not feel you need to come and see her body,  it is simply a possibility if you want to say goodbye in this way.

More to come…

love and blessings,
Lucia

This photo is of her last night, still beautiful and at peace.

Elizabeth Blue, Elizabeth Meagher, hospice

Elizabeth Blue her last night, 9/22/12

Elizabeth Blue,  Jade Beall, Elizabeth Meagher

Elizabeth Blue, April, 2012 by Jade Beall

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…)

Reflections on the early days of Elizabeth’s cancer diagnosis

I am surprised as I look back, at how few emails I sent out last November and December (2011) to my family and friends during Elizabeth’s early days and months of dealing with cancer.  There was relatively little drama going on, and we both tried hard to keep our outer lives looking relatively unchanged. We were both so certain that she would be fine, would fully recover as predicted (85-90% chance of full recovery) and live a long life, that we really took it in stride (and perhaps were in denial to a degree) and wouldn’t allow ourselves the possibility of this being the last year of her life.

I’ve been thinking all this time that it was mainly Elizabeth who didn’t want her life to change, she didn’t want people to know, didn’t want people to worry, pity her, treat her differently, have negative thoughts that would impact her energetically from a distance…as I reflect, I see that I was very much aligned with Elizabeth, not simply supporting her, but really not wanting the attention for myself either. I didn’t want to be pitied, to have the negativity I imagined coming from others, to be judged.  I watched my own judgements come up around cancer, as I imagined what others would be thinking – it’s always our own thoughts if we are truly honest.  I became aware of unconscious beliefs I held: that people with cancer hadn’t made healthy choices, either physical or emotional ones; that the parents of children with cancer were somehow responsible; that there was some shame in having cancer, or having a child with cancer.  It’s hard to even write this now, as it no longer feels true.

I remember when I was doing Reiki as a volunteer at the local hospital in Tucson two years before Elizabeth was diagnosed, synchronistically working with people with cancer in the same units where Elizabeth would be a patient a short time later! Some part of me was guided to volunteer there – not only working at the same hospital where she would be, but working with patients with cancer, including children, young adults her age, and people in the ICU.  I’ll never forget the first time I encountered a baby, just 2 months old, being treated for cancer.  As I watched the thought appear: “this baby is too young to have done anything to cause his cancer”, I realized painfully that that was the belief I’d been carrying for so long, that people with cancer are responsible for their illness through the choices they’ve made.  Once it came to consciousness, I was able to work with it and that belief changed.

Over time, I’ve come to see that we can make choices that may make it more likely we’ll be healthy, but they will not change whatever our soul’s destiny is. I believe we have some free will, but I also believe we are not the ones in control. I believe anytime we have some major shift, such as a cancer diagnosis, it is a great opportunity to look deeply at what is not serving, how I am not aligned, not following my heart, and dive deep into healing from that place of awareness.

Elizabeth was very private during her fist round with cancer, from diagnosis in November 2011 to her last chemo in March, 2012.  She only told her closest couple of friends and promised them to secrecy, not even telling the man she was dating. Her greatest concern, besides surviving, was living as normal a life as possible, and that no one treat her differently. She completed her junior year at the University of Arizona in the Honors College as an English/Creative Writing major, taking a full course load and getting straight A’s both semesters during her treatment.  She did tell her professors, as she had to miss some days of school with each chemo treatment and occasionally for doctor appointments or tests.

Elizabeth Blue with Blue

Elizabeth Blue with her beloved cat Blue, with her own hair

She grieved deeply about losing her hair and some of the most dramatic and emotionally challenging days were spent trying to find her the PERFECT wig that looked so much like her real hair that not even her lover knew she had lost her hair.  We spent several days searching every wig store and cancer organization in Tucson with no success, as most women who lose their hair are over sixty and don’t have long, brown hair with bangs!  We then spent hours online before finding the website that sold (expensive) wigs in styles for younger women, and made of real hair, that looked very realistic.  It also, of course, had to arrive before she lost all her hair, which she’d been told, accurately, would happen fourteen days after her first chemo.

Elizabeth Blue

Elizabeth – as beautiful as ever, with her wig

She did not write publicly and barely even privately, about having cancer until she completed her treatment and was declared in remission.

I found only a few emails I wrote to individual friends and family from that early time. I share them here.

November and December, 2011

11/13/12
to Alexandra
yes, we are feeling quite optimistic as well.  so glad she’s had her first treatment, and today is feeling well, though still very swollen.  she was in the best spirits I’ve seen her all week, and tomorrow we go wig shopping, so we’ll see how that goes!  she’s determined to have hair that looks like her own, but we’ll see once she loses it if she’s as attached as she is now…

my main worries right now are to do with insurance and financial, but I’m just trusting that it will all work out.  the wig may be a big expense, but we’ll see what we can find!   1st stop is the American Cancer Society, as they sometimes have gently used wigs free…
much love
L
11/19/11
to a friend who is a social worker at the Cancer Center:
thanks for writing – yes, that is my daughter Elizabeth, who is 21 and was diagnosed a week and a half ago with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  It’s been a huge shock, of course, and she started chemo last Friday, and is doing really well.  The prognosis is excellent, with only one lymph node affected (mediastinal), and she was back in school 2 days after chemo…

I think the emotional part of it is immense and is hitting each of us in different ways – it’s strange since right now things seem fairly normal, but at the same time not normal at all!  Elizabeth’s hugely concerned with the fact that she’s going to lose her hair soon, and doesn’t want her friends and everyone in her life to know that she has cancer – she’s aware also of how attached she is to her looks and is already able to see some of the gifts and benefits of going through this, which is amazing…So she’s ordered some very expensive wigs and is hoping one will look real enough to be able to go to yoga (unfortunately it wouldn’t stay on well enough, and she chose to forgo yoga, one of her great loves, during her treatment, rather than go to class without hair) and go dancing in.   I’m hoping both that she’s going to feel better with that solution, and also that she can make peace with losing her hair and be ok with that for this period of time…and not need to hide any part of herself, moving into a deeper experience of life.

12/2/11
Hi everyone,

thank you all so much for your prayers, good wishes, emails and phone calls – they are hugely appreciated and I believe making a real difference.

Elizabeth is sleeping next to me while receiving her 2nd chemo treatment.  She is doing extremely well, both in terms of her past three weeks with relatively few side effects from the treatment, and in terms of the measurable results we heard today. The blood work from today showed a huge, wonderful response to her first treatment, the doctor and NP who are working with her were very pleased.  The main indicator of the tumor has already decreased to normal levels, (meaning that they are certain the tumor has already shrunk considerably) and all her blood counts are normal or above normal, which means her body is not only responding well, but also her immune system is strong and healthy.

She has mostly felt well, with some fatigue and not great appetite, but she’s managed to eat well, getting back to her usual weight and looks wonderful.

She is hoping all this means she may have only a total of 6 treatments, as they’d said 6 – 8, and no radiation, which is a (small) possibility once the chemo is done.  She is already doing some wonderful writing about all this…and continues to have a great attitude, seeing this as a rite of passage, which is amazing to me. (Seeing it in other ways as well, i know!)

Please continue to send your positive thoughts, prayers and energy.  Thank you.

much love,
Lucia

Bird’s Nest

Featured

This was written by Elizabeth in June, 2010, 17 months before she was diagnosed with lymphoma.  She was preparing to leave Tucson for Seattle.  She did not consciously know she would die just over 2 years later, though some part of her clearly did.

The image is the artwork on which she based the tattoo on the back of her right thigh.  She loved this tattoo and was only able to get the outline completed before she was diagnosed.  Once she started chemo in November of 2011, she was advised to wait until chemo was completed to have the color done, and the tattoo was never finished.

Elizabeth Blue's Bird's Nest