Sunday, January 20, 2013

The third bell

I have sprung a leak, am taking on water.
Perhaps in my sleep, I drifted across
a ragged rock or coral reef.
It's not yet dangerous: no sound
of swooshing in the hold.
But it's only a matter of time.
I have presented myself
with an arbitrary date: forty weeks,
a spiritual pregnancy.
The bell rang for my birth and marriage;
it's time now for the third bell.

I have to learn how to die,
to die with dignity; not sign off 
a snarky, snivelling wretch.
I am practicing stoicism.
I am loving more deeply
the things that matter: visits from friends,
music, light on the walnut tree.
It's been several years since I have seen
the night sky; so I will be taken out 
to drink my fill of moon and stars.
Virgin namesake, moon-Queen at night fall.”
Or, the Duchess of Malfi's magic words:
Look you, the star shines still.”

My mind wavers and I wonder at times 
whether I can retain my stubbornness.
But then I remember the hardship
of each days waking,
remember I can no longer consent
to the pain and endurance,
nor transform them into any
meaningful pattern.

I am asked whether I will find it hard
to say goodbye.  But, consider
how many times I have already said it:
feeding, cleaning, dressing myself
turning over in bed
walking, singing, playing the piano,
cooking, stitching my tapestry,
hugging my friends from their or my need.
The list could go on forever.

I have lived, so far, nearly three 
of the forty weeks yet to come.
There will be only one ending,
an ending I must learn to trust.


  1. 40 weeks, or 40 more weeks again, you're making them count, Diana. And you've got friends you'll never see, following your words.

  2. No matter what your physical condition dictates; you will, and always were going to die with dignity.
    I have respected you, particularly your 'stubbornness', for many years now.
    But to be stubborn enough to reject the immense lethargy (I imagine you must feel), and actually put all this down in words, I find nothing less than heroic and inspiring.
    Much, much love
    Beth X

  3. Diana,

    One of the things I've admired about you is that you have always been the conductor of your own orchestra and this will give you the time and destination to let go of the heavy hours, the anxiety, the pain and take a deep breath and slowly let go,
    I honor you for facing this straight on and wish you every joy and softening that comes with shedding the tired old clothes of your body and moving on into wholeness and the unfathomable mystery.
    much love, diane