Early diagnosis should have been possible. We needed more time.

I am pretty sure that a more experienced doctor (like our VERY good Dr. Lomb in Toronto) Would have caught both the signs of Pat’s pancreatic cancer and her early strokes (they were NOT migraines as she thought) in early fall. Reading over her diary entries from October 1 to October 12th I certainly see it. Okay I have the hind sight of November’s diagnosis and CAT scans. Such early diagnosis and treatment might have given her longer and allowed our trip to Nova Scotia she so wanted.
Here are the two diary entries I think would have told the tale to a good, experienced doctor like Dr. Lillian Lomb:
Wed, Oct5, 2016
A fine, bright day, cool now (9am). I slept 9 hours last night & feel rested. Yesterday I kept seeing migraine sparkles – think it was b/c of being so exhausted.
[later] Some sparkles, an actual headache (albeit brief) and, once, a sudden wash of numbness through my left hand. ???
Tues, Oct 11, 2016
A cool, fallish day, now vivid bright, now lowering grey. Tai chi, then Pooka to vet for claw clipping & more pills, then some grocery shopping. Also, I proof read some poems for E… for an OAC grant app.
Health watch. I feel stupid recording these symptoms, b/c it seems an exercise in flagrant hypochondria, but here goes: last few days, or week, have been seeing the sparkly lights near my eyes – the ones that look like a crescent of shattered triangular glass bits, often faceted and with faint colours. Also, faint headache. Sounds like migraines, but why would this be bothering me now?
Today, some light headedness/dizziness just after breakfast and in tai chi. Later in the car, a strange, weak feeling in the left arm, with some discomfort up from the elbow. Yet, I had no lack of energy and was able to walk about as usual.
Also, lately, that pain in my chest on the far-right side has been bothering me a lot. Feels like a pulled muscle – there is a burning quality to it. But it comes and goes and seems to have no relation to what I’m doing.
Same with the pain on the left side near the heart, which has more of a pinching or squeezing quality.

I can’t help but think that these symptoms should have told someone something particularly when on October 25th she “felt a rather severe pain below [her] left shoulder blade. It was griping, scrunching pain and lasted about 5 minutes.” This was the third time she felt it. Pat however didn’t tell our doctor about any of this until the pains began to really bother her and she developed a lump in her leg. She went to see our doctor on November 4th and he suspecting a clot sent her to the vein clinic who found blood clots in both legs and sent her to Grand River Hospital where she was prescribed Xarel but nobody put everything together until November 15 when Emergency diagnosed pancreatic cancer stage four.

I’m writing this in hopes my wife’s experience will help others to go to a doctor earlier and not try to diagnose themselves (it wasn’t migraines but minor strokes.) I am not bitter just empty and really sad Pat didn’t get to go to our planned 48th anniversary trip to White Point Beach resort. She died within six weeks of the diagnosis. She left undone so much she wanted to do. Would a diagnosis in early October have allowed treatment and prevented the two serious disabling strokes near the end of November? Would it have given her more time to finish what she wanted to complete? No blame just immense sadness!


Posted in Bow, Patricia A., Family, Grief, Pancreatic cancer, Strokes | Leave a comment

Our forever home

I dreamt of our, Pat’s and my, forever home. As the dream started I was in the western highlands walking Lochaber. The surroundings looked just like Pat’s painting “…painted on a board at twenty…A fantasy, I thought. A dream landscape: heroic, enchanted.” (The Loch by Patricia A. Bow) Then I was in the valley of the shadow of death walking hand in hand with Pat to the light at the end. The light was from the sunrise and made everything warm and red. Yet it wasn’t bright enough to blot out the stars and the aurora borealis. Then the sun rose to fully fill the gap at the end of the tunnel-like valley. It was blinding yet I felt I was looking at the face of Christ, the Son of God.
Then I saw a table before me set for breakfast and Pat sitting at the end waiting for me to join her. The lighting was warm as if from candles. Pat had prepared breakfast and set it before me. She was glowing and beautiful. All sorts of beautiful images blended together. The lilac grove of previous dreams surrounded us. Pat at the alter in the Church of the Holy Saviour Waterloo where Fr. Neil anointed her head with oil during communion when she was sick. Pat floating above me in our bedroom. Us toasting each other at the restaurant on her 70th birthday. Pat and her sisters, Bette and Deanne, on Christmas eve in our living room. All the pleasant memories remembered from her last year with me. All blended into a symphony of love. There were tears of JOY moments, tears of sorrow too – “she died before her business was properly done: death snatched the book before she’d filled the page. “ Her first Anniversary poem to me came to mind:
21 JUNE 1970

You love me royally, as I love you,
seated together in our garden Kingdom,
keeping up our silent conversation,
clothed in robes of joy of every hue.
For us, our royal love has had no parallel:
It rooted, grew, and like a miracle
spread to the garden where in now we sit,
Clothed in the fragrance of God in it.

And this long miracle is to discover
the inmost me and you,
to nurse no longing for another,
to forge the soul and its desire together
gently, openly and forever.

Nothing grows but common flowers
outside our Kingdom’s wall.
Here alone the magic lies.
We ask nothing; we have all.

We were in our garden home in Heaven alone with God and each other. The scent of the lilacs was everywhere. All was blended with scenes from our 2003 vacation at White Point Beach in Nova Scotia. It was paradise and very hard to describe. The images were all at once and so intertwined together to experience them you had to feel them. Pat had lead me here and comforted me and we were very much in love, happy and at peace. Surely, we were dwelling in each other and in the house of the Lord where we well dwell forever.

“So with you. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22

Posted in Bow, Patricia A., Family, heaven, Marriage, Poetry, Religion | Leave a comment

Thoroughly modern Patricia A. Bow

Pat, as her siblings point out “was the quietest of the “magnificent seven”. She possessed a determined yet calm quality. She was an introverted person and hated being the centre of attention. Yes, she was very sensitive and a deep thinker. It is true of Pat that still waters run deep. She was a peace maker having the ability to tactfully say what’s on her mind or on my mind as well. She wasn’t afraid of a little work or a challenge. She was always the practical and flexible one solving our problems well. Pat was patient with our grand children and our family though sometimes irritated with mine and others’ personalities and habits. She felt a connection to Nova Scotia, things Scottish and the Cameron clan home lands. (Her mother’s maiden name was Cameron) She could be stubborn and determined to hold on to some behaviors – almost obsessive and very fixated.
She loved me very much as I loved her. Once having found she loved me she committed whole heartily. We seemed to just fit well together; in her mind, I was “the only man for her” – a soulmate and very much like herself. She did not like arguing but was neither submissive nor clingy. She needed room to breath and to just be herself. She was a thoroughly modern woman, a feminist and would not have been happy in a typical 50s style of relationship or any relationship that placed restrictions on her individuality. We were both committed to an intimate and passionate partnership. We respected each others’ privacy and independence. She was not my servant nor was I hers – she made me get my own tea. We shared decision making and neither tried to dominate the other. We both contributed to the financing of our marriage. When things got bad we, both retrained and when she proved more successful in earning a living she did not resent being the bread winner. Patricia was adaptable, intelligent, and danced to her own music.
Religiously, she was not a fundamentalist nor literalist though raised with certain of these values. Fundamentalism and its Siamese twin literalism are the two greatest attacks on God and the church today. Our marriage classes and her confirmation classes in the Anglican Church took – she was a deeply committed Prayer Book Anglican. We used to take pleasure in discussing our beliefs and the theology of the BCP. Remember she had a big advantage over me; she had studied Northrop Frye. She dislikes the Book of Alternative Services with a vengeance – couldn’t stand what it did to the English language. Church services were meant to be our best and the BCP was crafted when English was at its height.
Yes, we were soulmates, our heart’s other half, life partners, and eternally united as one in marriage. We made each other feel entirely whole, healed and intact like two pieces of a puzzle. We were two united as one by God against the world. We had the ability to read each others’ minds and always knew when the other was nearby. As the American writer Richard Bach said, “A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are.” We fulfilled each other.
Interestingly she described me in a document (What I like in a man) she wrote while we were dating. Here are bits of it:
“1. Thick dark eyebrows…
9. A man with a friendly smile…
12. A man who lights my cigarette…
13. A man who has no hang-ups letting a woman light his cigarette…
16. A man who pays complements because he thinks they are true…
19. A man who is bigger than I am…
20. Broad shoulders…
22. Treating my ideas with the same attention as his own…
26. When he treats me in private as he does in Public…
30. Sideburns especially curly.”
She particularly disliked indecisive, weak men and as well as chauvinist and macho men. Remember I proposed to her on our first date and she knew I meant it – you can’t  get more decisive than that. She loved that I was comfortable in my masculinity  and never put women down. Eventually she came to love me and we married just seven months after our  first date. Our love continues to grow even after death. Love is stronger than Death. Patricia, I love you forever.

Posted in Bow, Patricia A., Family, Grief, Marriage, Religion - Anglican | Leave a comment

Thoughts on The Gospel of Thomas

There is debate on when the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas was written. Some scholars date it as early as 50 AD which would make it earlier than Mark written around 65 to 70 AD. The majority date it to the early to mid 2ND Century around 172 AD. Which is just after the four canonical gospels. (60 – 125 AD.) The Gospel of Thomas has long been known from references by Church Fathers as far back as the third century. Like the canonical gospels there is a relationship to the Hypothetical Q document. It is too “new” to be that Q document. The Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas is the most complete of existent Gospels of Thomas we have. Not all scholars agree that Thomas should be considered Gnostic. Paterson Brown has argued that the three Nag Hammadi Gospels of Thomas, Philip and Truth cannot be so labeled, since each, in his opinion, may explicitly affirm the basic reality and sanctity of incarnate life, which Gnosticism by definition considers illusory.

I am ready to accept The Gospel of Thomas as very important in what Jesus was teaching. It begins:

These are the secret words of Almighty God
which Lord Jesus Christ
uttered and were scribed by his disciple Thomas.

He said, “He who comprehends
The inner meaning of these words
Will be immortal.

On eternal life.

“Have you seen the beginning
that you may know the end?
where there’s a beginning
there’s no end.
Happy is the man or woman
who can stand bravely
at the beginning.
He or she shall know the
end and won’t taste death.”

On the Kingdom of Heaven:

Jesus replied, “It’s like a
grain of mustard, smaller than
other seeds, but when it falls
on ploughed ground it grows
a large stem and shelters the birds.”

On entering into His Kingdom:

Jesus replied,
“Make the two into One
and the inner as the outer
and the outer as the inner,
the above as below,
the male and female
into a single One.
So the male isn’t male and
the female isn’t female any more.
When you make two eyes
into a single eye,
a hand into a foot,
a picture into a picture,
then you’ll enter the Kingdom.

I’ll chose you,
as one from a thousand:
you’ll stand bravely,
being a single One.

On God who is at the heart of our being:

I am the light shining upon all things.
I am the sum of everything,
For everything has come forth from me,
And towards me everything unfolds.
Split a piece of wood, and there I am,
Pick up a stone and you will find me there.

Some say The Gospel of Thomas contradicts the canonical gospels and reject the whole because of the final logion where Peter announces abruptly, Mary Magdalene should leave us, for women are not worthy of this life.”

Simon Peter said to the
Lord and his disciples,
“let Mary leave us, because women
Are unfit for the Life Everlasting.”

Jesus replied,
“Wait, I’ll guide her soul,
To make her as a real man,
in that place which transcends
the differences between the sexes’
so she’ll become a living spirit.

For each woman who makes
herself male in this way
and overcomes all differences
will enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”

NO Jesus is not saying that a woman must turn into a man before she can enter the kingdom – that would be so out of character and against everything else Jesus taught.
Jesus is not saying Mary must become a man; He is saying Peter must grow beyond the prejudices of his age. Jesus is saying “If it’s so all-fired important to you guys trapped in the prejudices of your age to have her be male – poof! We’ll make her male. What’s the big deal. I will transform her into a living spirit.” See below repeated from above.

“Make the two into One
and the inner as the outer
and the outer as the inner,
the above as below,
the male and female
into a single One.
So the male isn’t male and
the female isn’t female any more.
When you make two eyes
into a single eye,
a hand into a foot,
a picture into a picture,
then you’ll enter the Kingdom.

When you are able
To make two become one, …
so that a man is no longer male,
and a woman, female,
but male and female
become a single whole …
making one image supersede another
–Then you will enter in.

We are all one in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Posted in Gospel of Thomas, heaven, Religion, Religion - Anglican | Leave a comment

A dream of beloved spouse dying…

You don’t ever get over the loss of a beloved spouse; it will not all be resolved with time. Healthy adults tend to grieve for a long time. You begin to reconcile yourself to living with the grief and are eventually able to cope. But grief is also circular; it comes back sometimes in dreams after months of being calm. Had a really bad dream last night. It was about losing Pat. Seems to come every couple of months.
Pat and I had a little spat and she got mad at me and wanted to leave me which she did by dying. I felt the immense panic – same as when she did die – and a very deep emptiness. This time no peaceful death in her sleep. She died right before my eyes and began turning into a skeleton. There was also great anger that I couldn’t do anything. And great sorrow. I was feeling abandoned by God and peeved with Him for not granting our prayers for a cure and a few more years together. Oh, how sad I was feeling. Without God (I felt He was rejecting me) is like being in Hell. That is how I awoke.
I know I’m not going crazy, and this is normal grief. Grief can range anywhere from rage, guilt, terror, fear, dependency, denial and sadness, to anger, guilt, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, shock, relief, acceptance or even numbness. Well I felt them all upon waking.
Don’t want to feel this again or have this type of dream again. I know Pat loves me still and our marriage was/is forever. And that Christ Loves us. But still I cried out her Name and pleaded for her help and comfort. Scared my cat, Piper! She now sleeps on the bed with me and no Piper did not pee on the bed. Pat, I love you forever and know you also love me forever. Love is stronger than Death. God is Love. So I shall endure and continue my journey to God and Us.


Posted in Bow, Patricia A., Family, Grief, heaven, Marriage, Religion, Religion - Anglican | Leave a comment

Communication in Marriage

I was thinking about how Pat and I communicated. I realized a lot of it was not in words, we often communicated with a look, touch or thought across a crowded room as in Tai Chi class. I think that couples in a long-term marriage begin to read each other. We come to think alike and there are signs of what we feel and think in our faces and movements. But it is something more than that – when we didn’t see or hear each other we knew the other was near and what mood they were having. I think we both had another sense that sensed each other’s being, identity, presence and love. I knew she loved me without the words (her love poems to me were ‘the icing on the cake’). We don’t always think in words; we don’t always reason; we often just feel, believe and yes love. Most of Pat’s and my communication with each other involved things such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, body language and other visual and emotional cues. Feelings and non-verbal thinking are the realm of our souls and identity – they have a life of there own. They are how we touch God, how soulmates touch and know each other. Pat and I were / are soulmates. It is how we communicated then and now – how I know she dwells in me and I dwell in her and that she will be present in me until we fully join after I die.
I still feel Pat is with me. In my view, Pat is still communicating with me in this same non-verbal way. She is letting me know she is still present and is waiting for “her beloved Eric” to join her in our garden kingdom in Heaven. Waking in the night I often have the overpowering feeling that Patricia is there in the bed beside me sleeping – lending her presence to comfort me. She is with me still. I believe that our marriage was forever and did not end with her death and won’t end with mine. The relationship Pat and I have on earth WILL continue in Heaven – marriage is for all eternity because God made us one in marriage. Our communion with each other and God continues forever. I don’t have to die to join my beloved Patricia – she is in the Kingdom of God within me, here and now. Pat dwells in me and I dwell in her, here and now. We are communicating non-verbally as we have always done. God is LOVE. Love is stronger than Death.

Posted in Bow, Patricia A., Family, Grief, heaven, Marriage, Poetry, Religion, Religion - Anglican | Leave a comment

Blessed are those who mourn …

The thing about losing Pat after 48 years of marriage is that every feeling, thought and moment has been intertwined for so long that I no longer remember who I was before marrying her. I know I was a lonely and a melancholy young man. I had my parents but though I loved them our minds did not touch. It’s also a very different type of love. Pat was my soulmate; she was the missing piece of the puzzle I didn’t even know was missing. She was the person I was going to grow old with. Because she loved me I felt I had to also love me – there was something worthwhile in me that she loved. Her dying left a big hole in my heart. It was like losing an essential part of myself. We were so entwined that I can’t name what part of me except to say it was the best of me. I lost my best friend, my lover, my companion, my everything.  C. S. Lewis wrote that losing his wife, Joy, was like having a leg amputated. He was right; a spouse is your support and without her you are going to limp for the rest of your life. My whole world has changed.  Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after your spouse dies and I treasure them. But even they are not complete; while Pat was alive we shared most of our memories each reinforcing the other’s memories reliving and making them clearer. The puzzle piece has gone missing again. Okay I feel comforted knowing that Pat’s soul and identity is still with me and that she is in Christ’s arms. Church is a sacred place and it is where I am closest to my beloved Patricia.  When I pray, I am in a meditative state which makes communion with Pat easier. I also have dreams of Pat that are so vivid that I feel they are real. I believe they are real – Pat is visiting me. But this presence does not help because though I feel her love and presence I can’t get to her- I want to hold her hand but can’t, I want to kiss her but can’t. Yes her spiritual presence doesn’t help with the deep longing for her actual physical presence.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Essentially, from a wisdom perspective, this second beatitude is talking about vulnerability and flow. When we mourn (not complaining or self-pity) we are in a state of free-fall, our heart reaching out toward what we have seemingly lost but cannot help loving anyway. To mourn is by definition to live between the realms. “Practice the wound of love,” writes Ken Wilber in  Grace and Grit,  his gripping personal story of loss and transformation. “Real love hurts; real love makes you totally vulnerable and open; real love will take you far beyond yourself; and therefore real love will devastate you.” Mourning is indeed a brutal form of emptiness. But in this emptiness, if we can remain open, we discover that a mysterious “something” does indeed reach back to comfort us; the tendrils of our grief trailing out into the unknown become intertwined in greater love that holds all things together. To mourn is to touch directly the substance of divine compassion. And just as ice must melt before it can begin to flow, we, too, must become liquid before we can flow into the larger mind. Tears have been a classic spiritual way of doing this.  — p 43 The wisdom Jesus: transforming heart and mind: a new perspective on Christ and his message / Cynthia Bourgeault.

Posted in Bow, Patricia A., Family, Grief, Marriage, Religion - Anglican | 1 Comment