A Year of Subtraction

Tucson, AZ – One year ago Chris’ doctor confirmed a malignant tumor at the distal end of her esophagus. Thus began her year of subtraction. The take aways increased as she fought to rid herself of demon cancer. As weeks slipped into months, her tears were followed by a long line of zeros. In the end, every effort added up to nothing, zero. Four months ago Chris transcended, and today, her home of 23 years welcomed someone new.

Where did the subtractions begin? They began with a common addiction – cigarettes. Then a minus sign appeared next to Wine * Diet Coke * Solid Food * Work * Stein Mart * Chico’s * Manicures * Pedicures * Massages * Trader Joe’s * Happy Hour. In their place Chris needed Chemo * Radiation * Hydration * A J-tube * Warm Blankets * Stints * Prescriptions * Emergency Room Visits * X-Rays * Hospitalization * End of Life Directives * Platelets * Rehab * Consults * Physical Therapy * Transportation * Hope.

When reconstructive surgery was cancelled in March, and after two weeks at the University of Arizona Medical Center, living independently had to be fully subtracted. The minuses and meows were with us. Chris was grateful that Jinx and Mr. Lucky went to live with Betsy. The TV-cable service was cancelled. The refrigerator and freezer emptied. On better days, Chris would email friends. Gradually, she began subtracting phone conversations and withholding words. Reciting “nothing-new-to-say” drained us both.

In April the subtractions became more serious. Chris needed Hospice * Hospital Bed * Walker * Shower Chair * Visiting Nurse * 24-Hour Care * Medications. We watched TV, did crossword puzzles, cried, and told stories. In the still, dark morning of May 12, Chris whispered, “It’s time to go.” Oh, the pain of those words will be with me forever. The essence of who she was and what she loved had been fully subtracted.

Today, September 26, a stranger is excited. A woman will unlock the front door of 6365 N. Cmo. Hermasillo and enter a new space. We wish her well in the Small House with Great Peace.

Small House Great Peace
Small House Great Peace

7 thoughts on “A Year of Subtraction

  1. susanenholm32 February 18, 2016 / 5:12 pm

    Thanks, Suzie. Richard and I took a trip to Summerhaven yesterday. At Windy Point I let some of Chris’ ashes take flight into the wind. A gust carried them high in the air – a beautiful sight. Yes, Chris would have been vocal about presidential politics. I’m loud enough for the two of us. Take care. Nice to hear from you. Susan


  2. Suzie Jayroe February 18, 2016 / 2:57 pm

    Susan I am thinking about Chris, and about you and Richard, today. I came back to your blog to find and reread your piece above, and it’s just beautiful. I send love and hope all is well in beautiful Tucson. Chris would have had some fabulous insight about the Presidential race this year.


  3. joe klalo October 2, 2014 / 3:08 pm

    Made me cry. Then. Realized you have to live every moment to the fullest. Chris showed me that.


  4. John A. Coates September 29, 2014 / 2:52 pm

    What a beautiful story.You were Chris’s guarding angel giving her what she needed most—love. Aroline


  5. susan nickey September 29, 2014 / 3:38 am

    Thank you for sharing.


  6. Suzie Jayroe September 28, 2014 / 10:41 pm

    Just beautiful, Susan. ….May 12……


  7. anita September 28, 2014 / 3:45 pm

    I know this took a lot out of you to write (another subtraction), but, hopefully you also are open to receiving, too. Lovely piece. It had a lightness to it, as well as sorrow.


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