Tonight Paul and I went to see the play "W;t" at the Lake City Playhouse in Coeur d'Alene with our friends Linda and Wyatt.
W;t is a one act play written by Margaret Edson, and it won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The action of the play takes place during the final hours of Dr. Vivian Bearing, a university professor of English, dying of ovarian cancer. She recalls the initial diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer from her oncologist, Dr. Harvey Kelekian. Dr. Kelekian then proposes an experimental chemotherapeutic treatment regimen consisting of eight rounds at full dosage. Vivian agrees to the treatment.
It is rare I get the chance to see a drama on stage, and like when I can take advantage of this type of play. Tonight did not disappoint. It was well written, and the actress who played the part of Dr. Bearing was excellent. If at some point in a production tears run down my face, I know I have been touches by what is happening on stage.
As I was watching the action on the stage, I was also transported back to 1996, the year my father was diagnosed with cancer. Dad was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of May of that year, and they told him he had about a month to live. A month later he died.
I was living in Meridian at the time, so I drove up to Kellogg with the three girls, who were 5, 22 months and 8 months at the time. We took over the top floor at Mom and Dad's house. My last two weeks with my dad were spent going up the river to a favorite bar, watching his friends come and visit, Mary McKenzie making delicious spaghetti and garlic bread with real cloves of garlic on the bread, and watching Dad change as soon as they started giving him morphine.
And besides Dad being in his last days, Paul's grandpa, Paul Taylor, who also lived in Kellogg, was also in his final days. It was a hard time so say the least. After we laid Grandpa Taylor to rest in the middle of May, the girls and I drove back to Meridian. And I waited to get the call to tell me that my dad had died.
Even though I was expecting the call, when my sister called with news, it was still very hard. But with the cancer taking over his body, it was a blessing that Dad gave in that night that he died, as he let the angels carry him home.
It is not pleasant to see cancer take over someone's life. So many of my friends have either dealt with their parents having cancer, their parent dying from cancer, or their parent is battling cancer right now. We are changed by this ravenous force that takes over the ones we love.
Often our loved ones live through being touched by cancer. Mom is an example. My mom had breast cancer in 2000, and has been cancer free ever since. But that doesn't lessen the impact on her life, and the life of our family. Our wounds were still a bit raw after losing Dad in 1996, then all of a sudden Mom has cancer four years later. But we all survived.
The thing that moved me the most in this play tonight was when this woman's former professor came and visited her in the hospital, and held her, and read a child's book to her, and showed her comfort. Because this brilliant professor had no one in her life that ever visited her in the hospital. Her parents were both dead, she had no siblings, and no friends came to visit. She was alone.
And if Dad's death showed me one thing, it was the importance of having the people you love around you at your time of death. Dad had his family. His friends came regularly to visit. People brought food. They sent cards. That is important. As we near the end, it is not a time to push people away, but to embrace them, and let them comfort us, and bring to us all their love.