Sanctuaries, Acceptance & Final Days

by Jane Devin on 04/27/2012


A friend of mine was diagnosed seven weeks ago with esophageal cancer. It’s terminal and she is in a hospice with only days left to live. I will write about Liljana “Pat” Stewart in a future post, but here’s what I can tell you now. She loved her life and lived her beliefs. She retired five years ago to become a full-time writer and besides having a passion for poetry, stories and painting, Pat absolutely loved her home. After years of renting, she finally purchased a place that she envisioned would be the sanctuary she always wanted. She spent hundreds of hours planting amazing English-style gardens, decorating rooms and hanging her art just-so. I don’t put too much stock in astrology, but Pat was a consummate Libra. She loved comfort, food, art, holidays and entertaining. If Pat’s house had a motto like those above, it might have been “In this home, we do warmth, we do welcoming.”

Pat's Home

When I saw the painted wall picture on Facebook this morning, minutes after I spoke with Pat, it brought to mind the dozens of photos that she sent me over the years of blooming flowers and new artwork. It also brought up my own thoughts about security, comfort, and the kind of environment that I’d like to live in one day. My needs and wants have evolved over the years. When I was raising my daughter, there were just four house mottos: Respect, Consideration, Kindness & Love. Everything from keeping the house clean to kisses goodnight fell under one or more of these simple words.

My Dream House

Being single, it’s different. Meaning that while my intentions are still the same, they’re not spent in the day-to-day realm of a familial or intimate relationship. And as much as I like to be alone, sometimes for days, there’s also a part of me that longs for someone to create an agreeable, loving environment with . . . to help paint the walls with mutual hopes, beliefs and goals.

I’m not lonely, though, and I’m not even looking. One of the things Pat and I have in common, besides our passion for stories, is a certain kind of acceptance for the twists of luck and life. If this is what it is and how it is to be, then I will make peace with it. Like me, Pat spent most of her adult years single (and quite contentedly), but I’m sure that if she’d met the right person—someone who made her heart soar while keeping her grounded with love—she would have returned their loyalty ten-fold and been very happily married.

That Red Hedge by Pat Stewart

Henry Ellis once said, “All the art of life lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” It took me many, many years just to start understanding that art, which can never truly be perfected. Sometimes, what seems to be a battle worth fighting proves futile, while at other times we suspect that we gave up on something too early. We can never really know. In the meantime, there’s only life . . . and that’s all there is until it isn’t anymore.

In this house today, I do reflection.
I do writing.
I do mourn, but I don’t regret.
I do great big imaginings.
I do nurturing of dogs & dreams.
I do laugh to myself and at myself.
I do cry when I have to.
I do wish.
I do pray.
I do live one close-up hope at a time.

What I don’t do, ever, is forget that life is a temporary state, meant to be lived as sweetly, fully, and passionately as we can make it . . . even when alone, even when it sometimes hurts, even when it’s unlucky, and even we’re so very far from any sort of perfect understanding that we constantly feel like we’re starting from scratch.

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