This post has been running around in my head for some time.
The overall theme of this blog of family history, family stories, family trees - in short, FAMILY - will, as I age, inevitably include family deaths. I referred a couple of posts back to the death of my grandchildren's uncle John - see http://johncaspell.allegrasloman.com/wordpress/ for his memorial site. And now closer kin, my brother, faces the undiscovered country from whose borne no traveler returns. Less than a year ago he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was treated with radiation and chemotherapy and seemed to be progressing well. His prognosis wasn't good but he had been given to expect a few more years. Then two months ago he had seizures, and investigation revealed the lung cancer had extended to his brain. Immediate treatment was whole-brain radiation, to be followed in a couple of weeks by targeted radiation with the linear accelerator in Vancouver. Now between those batches of radiation, he is fatigued and unsteady but learning to accept the love and help that family offer. Earlier, his fierce independence had made that difficult.
In December and January each of his siblings went to Kelowna in turn to keep him company while he was undergoing six weeks of radiation. When I was there I scribbled notes while he talked about his adventurous early life when for four years he traveled around the world. I went again for the week of his follow-up radiation in the middle of July; by then I had transcribed his story and he had reviewed and edited it. Meantime my husband (also David) had scanned into the computer the slides my brother had taken during those years, and printed off a set. This time we worked on detailed captions for the pictures. I am aiming for that book to be printed and bound by the time of the party.
The party? When Brother David got the second diagnosis, he called and said that he didn't want anyone coming to see him; he wasn't going to have a funeral; he wanted no ceremony. He was going to be cremated and his ashes buried in his son Michael's grave. What he DID want was a big family party, to take place as soon as he was well enough after his treatment to make the day-long trip, driven by his daughter, to Victoria. I was directed to get all the family together for him to say goodbye. A friend referred to such an event as a "living wake."
So - some time in the next few weeks there will be a family party here for my brother. We will comply with his wishes and "Sing no sad songs..." for him. His calm acceptance of his fate will keep us from weeping. At least on the outside.