Wonder Day 11.27.14 - Mariclare Barrett


I have a late-stage, terminal cancer.  Facing the limitation of my time in the future, I am training my heart to hold me gently in the present, and I find myself glancing more frequently to the past.

When I focus on my heart's memory, I feel swells of gladness and gratitude!  Some memories are shards from the distant past, catching just a glimmer of light.  Other memories are tapestries rich with detail and intricate patterns--family life roars. Childbirth that opened my heart to a new life (six times!) echoes through the decades with enduring clarity and tenderness.  The laughter that comes with true friendship tinkles like wind chimes.  My brothers and sisters and sons and friends uphold me.  The grace of my faith enfolds and sustains me.  How blessed it is to be alive, to have had a real life!

Cancer and its treatments eat away at my being, but not at my becoming.  Change is rapid and a tipping point is coming, so now I try each day to be still and remember who I am.  What I love.  And here's what I find: gratitude is the memory of my heart.




7 comments:

  1. Mariclare, I am saddened and interested to learn of your journey. I have fond and wonderful memories of you at Nazareth.You taught me much then and after reading your note, you teach me yet again. Thank you.Val Witzkowski Gleeson

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    1. How lovely to hear from you, Val! It's so easy to picture your smiling face and remember those Nazareth times of innocence, joy, and the hopefulness shared here at Wonder Anew. I have been dealing with metastatic breast cancer since April of 2011. A year of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation for early stage disease in 2004 didn't rid me of it. Hell if it isn't a tough road to travel, but here I am in the midst of it, and some wonderful learning and sharing and loving has come with the journey. All peace to you, and love, this Holy Advent season. MCB

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  2. What a beautiful thing you have done...to share here with us. I'm touched by your story and my heart sends love and wishes for light and peace. Your words are beautiful, inspiring, and challenging to us to rise to the occasion of "a real life"! I'm so touched by your phrase, "Cancer and its treatments eat away at my BEING, but not at my BECOMING." Thank you so much!

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  3. I, in turn, am touched by you comments, Michael. Thank YOU so much!

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  4. I'm trying to accept the sadness I feel as you travel this path, Mariclare, by focusing on my gratitude for being part of your Naz days. Remember when we jokingly cited the scriptures that asked if anything good could come from Nazareth? I think of you in positive response! To think that part of that glimmering past is being taken from the physical world, too soon, saddens me. But as you point out, the richest memories come from family and the love that was shared with family and friends. I'm happy that you are surrounded by love, that your quiet thoughts are peaceful and satisfying and grateful. Thank you for being so deliberate and honest as you take your final steps. Thank you for reminding me of my late husband's "list for the rest of his life" written on our wedding day, which began with showing love every day, because I sometimes need to be reminded. Thank you for the adventures and smiles of the past, and God bless you and your family. Donna Davy Spicuzza.

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    1. Your thoughts are so precious, Donna! I deeply appreciate your beautiful expression of love showed on December 4th. Your husband certainly had that right, about showing love each day. I want to also say that it is bold and courageous of you to share the anticipatory grieving you are experiencing. It can be so hard to sit with that! Having lost your true love so prematurely, you know the full cycle of grieving a loss of life, and now you have the gift of helping others see. Here's a thought: perhaps you'd be willing to share about grieving on this blog. I would surely appreciate that as I work with my family and friends to come to terms with preparing for the inevitable loss to come. I just saw a quote from Joan Didion to the effect that whatever you think about grief it doesn't happen that way. So there's no expectation of a definitive guide--just individual sharing. I know you'll think about that. I will continue to think about you and the wonderful group of young women we were a part of as the Class of '69 at Nazareth! I think there's time for another adventure, in the quiet form of a meal or a cup of tea! (I messaged you about that on FB. Aren't these tools of the current age a boon?!) Till then, God bless you too, MCB

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  5. Thank you, I'd love to share a cup of tea if it works out! Everything is better over a cup of tea. I'll think about sharing thoughts on the blog. Joan Didion had some beautiful insights to share, it's true grieving does not follow any prescribed path. Some books I found helpful as I navigated the journey were "Final Gifts" written by hospice nurses, and C.S. Lewis' "A Grief Observed." Just don't be disappointed if in spite of all preparation, your loved ones occasionally exhibit denial. It's so intrinsic. And hey, it's not always bad, if it helps someone to savor the present. Appreciating each moment of the here and now will create memories to sustain those who shared them. And I'm sure you've got more adventures in you! All the best, Donna.

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