I am off to Portland with a heavy heart. My good friend Jennifer Sass is not doing very well. Of course, knowing Jennifer she just might be around a lot longer than is currently predicted. Yet, I knew this visit was better to not put off. In the past few years I have had hints, little whispers before a storm, that came and took with it a close friend, mentor or loved one. I have generally been writing words of my loving and awe of these friends after they were gone.
This time I would like to write about Jennifer before she takes that last breath. I doubt she’ll see, read or even hear about whatever words show up here. My blog is often more of a path for me to open my heart and let whatever feelings and thoughts need to surface, flow. I think the decision to visit Jennifer, because I heard the whisper, and my desire to arrive with an open heart, for whatever the next couple days have to offer, are compelling me to write now!
Jennifer, Jennifer you are such a force of nature. You have been an important part of my life for more than twenty years. I first met you from a distance. You and your band of merry friends, laughing and loving life during a month long Haven program. I was bald and just barely finding my way through my own run with cancer. You inspired me. Not much was funny about my life at the time, but whenever I had the chance, I would walk with you guys and laugh. Of course, this also was a time when you stepped into my shoes in a psychodrama and later shared that you had to go burn your clothes to find a way to rid yourself of some of my nightmare that you stepped into that day.
We have walked together through many things since then. Now, my cancer is gone and you have been fighting with your own for a few years. Some might think I have fared better, being cancer free for several years. But anyone who has walked this painful path knows cancer isn’t about who lives beyond cancer, but how one lives with it. You have lived well my friend!!! It might be cancer that takes you on to your next adventure, but it will never be cancer that defeats you!!!
Just yesterday, as I was sitting in meditation after some yoga, I believe I had a moment with your spirit, a blazing bright light that simply brought a smile upon my face. You are already out there taking in what’s next, and I imagine fully realizing that letting go of this physical body won’t take you away from the hearts of those you love but may even bring you closer.
It might take a while longer for those of us you may soon be leaving behind to fully get that you are not gone!! So you need to let us cry, wail and gather around you.
Your love of family is something that is truly inspirational. You and Dick are like the poster people for Haven relationships. Sure you have had some crazy times, and I am guessing a few of us have wondered, “Why are they still together?”. But you both have stuck with each other through hell, heaven and everything in between. Then there’s the rest of the family. Anyone who steps into your home knows that family and friends are what matter to you. The walls are a walking storytelling experience: the Bements, the Sasses, The Haven family over the years. I love being in your home. I see and feel the loving of you wherever I go.
Plus, if it weren’t for you I may never have interviewed my parents and discovered the richness of their lives. I may never have discovered the possible stories beyond my own nightmare versions of my past. You challenged me, both in terms of family history, and in terms of other relationships that shifted or changed in my world over the years. I sometimes moved on, yet you always reminded me to look back with different eyes and possibly meet these same people in a new way. That is a very special gift I think you have offered so many.
There are many things I haven’t spoken of in this little blog. You are my friend, and right now, I prefer to briefly hold your hand even if you don’t know I am here, than wait to talk about you once you are gone. I hope that’s okay with you.
If you are indeed ready to go, I support you. If you want to hang around longer, that’s okay too. As I said, I am of two minds – one wanting you to stay so we can chat for hours once again – the other wanting you to let go of the physical limits of this body. Either way your light will remain bright through the hearts of all of us that love you!!! Relax and let that loving in!!! I love you.