“It has now been More than 7 years since I've been fighting 4th stage cancer. I have survived LM with no remission for more than 4 years. We have now done all we can to treat a tumor that has been eating up my spinal cord and has left me nearly quadriplegic. I haven't been able to walk for a year and a half now; hiking is out of the question. I am unable to move my own body, even a simple shift in weight. I require 24/7/365 care and attendance. I am nearly blind and mostly deaf now. The love by which I have been surrounded has kept me alive and joyful despite my circumstances.”
HikingForHope's crumbling body could no longer contain her indomitable and beautiful spirit on August 11th, 2014, 20 days shy of her 53rd birthday. She slipped gently from my arms to blaze trails that I will not likely be able to reach for some time. I'm in no hurry; she parented both her children to adulthood (by a month in the case of our youngest). Now it is my job to watch over them.
In these last weeks she spoke of wanting to dictate her last post for this blog, but since words were precious as it became harder for her to speak, and we simply never did. Two days after her graduation I found a tablet with the quoted text above written in her shaky handwriting (her handwriting, when her body still worked, was beautiful). It had to have been written within the last couple of months. I am sure she had more to say, but it certainly stands alone, so I am publishing it.
Her intellect was intact to her end in this world, and joyful she was. Never did she complain, or become bitter. Her path was not of her choosing, but she walked it all the way out, with love enough to share.
I have not yet decided what to do about this blog. I am sure that this is not THE last post, only HER last post. There is much that I would tell you about HikingForHope, and, as her condition degraded these last years, we adventured faster then she could blog, so there is a bit of a backlog of her work for me to curate. She barely touched on our adventures to and from Colorado in 2012, and there were a few after that. I do not have a Master's degree in English like her, and I could never hope to write as she did, but I was there, and she did leave me a great deal of pictures and notes. Also, I suspect I might have some observations about riding the Cancer Bus to the last stop that somebody out there may benefit from. I will do my best to resist the urge to turn this blog into a monument of adoration, though I will tell you here and now, that woman was like no other, and I will miss her all of my mortal days. I will endeavor to honor her intent serve those who find themselves on the Cancer Bus, and offer them both hope as well as actionable intel, since, as we discovered, there is just so much that was not on the brochure.
I will close with a fun bit.
It was HikingForHope's wish that she be cremated, and that her ashes be scattered far and wide, in the places she loved. DS and I will be retracing the path to the summit of Mount Whitney and scattering a bit of her mortal remains there. Oh, wait, strike that. I think that is illegal. Forget I said it. But here is a picture.