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.