Grief, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 7 – I Am the One Dying

To begin this chapter I share a dream I had some years previous that had I never shared with anyone before it found its way into my memoir, ๐‚๐จ๐ฐ๐›๐จ๐ฒ๐ฌ ๐€๐ซ๐ž ๐๐จ๐ญ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐‚๐ซ๐ฒ. I am still quite honestly surprised that I shared the dream unedited. ๐Ÿ˜‰

“I do not understand?” he questioned her, fighting to quell his surprise and rage that was growing.

“No, you do not,” she stated simply, still not looking at him as they continued to walk.

The words hung in the air as she paused before taking a breath. He watched her as she continued to look straight ahead, staring off into the distance as she calmly added in a tone of finality,

“I am the one dying.”

CHAPTER 7, I AM THE ONE DYING, PAGE 71 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

Thus ended the dream from which I awoke my heart pounding. There is much more detail to the dream that is revealed in my memoir. If you haven’t purchased my book, go buy a print or e-book copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes (shameless self-promotion! ๐Ÿ˜‰).

Have you ever had a dream from which you wonder at it’s meaning, even as you know there is truth spoken in the dream? Luka’s comment in the dream that she was the one dying definitely spoke a truth that I was unwilling to acknowledge while she was alive. I often found myself denying the truth and unwilling to face the reality of her illness.

Yet, I hope I am wiser now and realizing that we are all traveling different roads. Our roads will parallel and cross over others at times but ultimately we each must journey alone into the alone.

The words hung in the air as she paused before taking a breath. He watched her as she continued to look straight ahead, staring off into the distance as she calmly added in a tone of finality, “๐™„ ๐™–๐™ข ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™™๐™ฎ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ.”

CHAPTER 7, I AM THE ONE DYING, PAGE 71 – MARK W. SCHUTTER, Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry

Why is it such surprising news when we know that each one of us will face dying, both our own and that of ones we love.

God, Life, Writing

Death has always been a big deal!

Photo taken at Old West Village – Cody, Wyoming

Death has always been a big deal! #Grief #Trauma #LifeAfter

There are hundreds of bible verses about death, promising a blessed hope after this life. We joke, we ignore, and we trivialize death at every turn. If our physical death is inevitable for each of us why do we so often refuse to acknowledge it?

For centuries throughout history, death has always been a big deal… after a person has died. Ornate ceremonies and trappings to celebrate the life of the one who has died. Fancy carriages like the one above, now hearses, that carry the dead body towards a final resting place. Coffins that are spectacular in their craftmanship that only serve to rot in the ground or burn up in the fire.

  • And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. ~Ecclesiastes 12:7
  • For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. ~Romans 14:8
  • And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? ~John 11:26
  • The last enemy to be destroyed is death. ~1 Corinthians 15:26
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ~Matthew 5:4

These are only but a few of the many bible verses about death. It is coming for all of us. Do you believe in the one who conquered death?

The only one who died and rose again was and is Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16

Have you placed your trust and faith in him? Death is coming for us all, what then?

Jesus said to him, โ€œI am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~John 14:6

Grief, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 4 – Still Miles to Walk

In Chapter 3 – Walking Away in my memoir Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry, I talked about the moments when we have to walk away from all we’ve ever known. And that brings us to the next chapter, wholly unprepared I found myself on this journey walking a road less traveled and it had only just begun.

Chapter 4, Still Miles to Walk

And the Best Thing You Can Do with Death Is to Ride off from It?

This chapter focuses on the many things that take place immediately following a death. All the logistical and practical things that you, as the surviving spouse are expected to take care of starting with funeral arrangements. So many decisions must be made all the while dealing with the shock and grief of your loss.

At the beginning of the chapter I list the following quote from Stephen Jenkinson in his book Die Wise, A Manifesto of Serenity and Soul,

Dying is not what happens to you. Dying is what you do.

I agree with this and would also rephrase it from a different perspective,

Moving forward after someone you love dies is not what happens to you. Moving forward is what you do.

You immediately realize there are still miles to walk and you have no map of the path nor the ultimate destination. Maybe because there is no end to this walk?

Ever since Luka had been diagnosed the first time, through all the treatments, her dying, and right up to this point as the funeral ended, I had been making this up as I went along. And I still didn’t know what to do.

CHAPTER 4, STILL MILES TO WALK, PAGE 49 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

I learned the hard way that there were still so many unknowns on this path as I walked through my own valley of the shadows. My legs moved on their own much of the time, my mind numb but reeling from the enormity of the moments before me. Knowing that nothing would ever be the same again and I could never turn around and walk the path back to where it began.

Chapter 4, Still Miles to Walk – Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry

What are you thoughts? What is your experience following the death of a loved one? Have you read my memoir? Did it spark anything in you?

Read my thoughts on the first three chapters of my memoir, links below, and watch for the next one in the series – Chapter 5, Death is Only the Beginning

PS – Have a nice day and saddle up! ๐Ÿค 

Grief, Life, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 3 – Walking Away

Sometimes you have to walk away…

Chapter 3 began taking shape in my mind following a conversation with my therapist. As usual we were discussing Luka’s death and the impacts on me, when I mentioned that in the moments after she died. I spoke about remembering standing by her bedside where she lay. Thinking to myself, there was nothing else I could do. I had to and needed to walk away. Yet, I stayed for several moments by her bedside.

I knew I needed to walk away. To turn from this lifeless body that lay in front of me that had held my whole world. There was nothing left for me to do for her.

I recall my therapist staring at me in silence for several seconds before he spoke softly. “It’s interesting in all my experience you are the first person to talk about that. I mean we talk about the death and then we jump to the funeral proceedings and all the logistical things around death. No one has ever mentioned before, those moments immediately following someone dying and what those left behind have to do.”

I swallowed hard and responded, “Yeah, her death was peaceful and calm but then what? I stood there, knowing she was dead and then realizing that was it. I had to turn away from everything I knew and walk away, leaving her there alone. That was hard.”

I don’t recall if I thought about all those things that would never be again or just the among of willpower it took to move my feet and leave her behind. Our time together in the physical world was done.

“Time together was the only thing, just being with her, sitting talking, watching movies, and holding her hand, so many things that I now believe may have helped her breathe a little easier in those moments.”

CHAPTER 3, WALKING AWAY, PAGE 40 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

There would be no more talks, no more movies, no more time together. Only the memories of what once was. I still carry those memories, nothing can take them away, although the edges of my memory may have frayed and faded a bit. That is just time eroding what once was. I was heading towards my 29th birthday…

“I was lost at sea with on wind in my sails. I had the freedom to do, to be, to go anywhere I wanted, and I did not want that freedom. I was free to walk away. How do you reconcile that?”

CHAPTER 3. WALKING AWAY, PAGE 42 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

Here are links to my thoughts and revisits of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Order your copy today, and one or two or threeโ€ฆ as a gift for some else who is struggling, 

You can also contact me here on my website to purchase signed copies.

PAY IT FORWARD!

Art, Life, Writing

Something Completely Different!

He quickly dried himself and tossed the towel aside. Wrapping the soft white bath robe around his waist he tied the belt around his waist making a knot in the front. He then exited the building into the warm afternoon sun. It seemed to be a normal spring day with the sun shining amongst billowy clouds floating across the canvas of a cerulean sky. He quickly spotted her standing a short distance away with her back to him. She was wearing a similar white bath robe and her long brown hair hung down over her shoulders. She appeared to be having a conversation with a man who he did not know seated in front of her in a lawn chair. The distance between her and the man appeared to be about two yards and he seemed to be listening intently.

He began to walk towards her and this stranger, covering the distance quickly as his instincts raised the hairs on the back of his neck. The area was the grounds of a campus of some sort with people milling about amidst numerous large brick buildings. As he drew closer in his approach to the two figures he heard her voice. She seemed to be replying in response to a question from the strange man. Others passed by ignoring them both.

Coming from behind she was unaware of his approach and his nearness allowed him to hear her say the word โ€˜cancer.โ€™ At that moment her hands quickly untied the knot at her waist holding her bath robe closed. Grabbing both front seams she tore open the robe her arms outstretched to her sides.ย  Shocked, he quickly covered the last few yards to where she was standing. Without hesitating he placed himself squarely between her and this man sitting there with an almost deliriously evil grin on his face. He was able to block the manโ€™s view of her with his body. As he had moved to intersect the sight line between the two he was even more surprised to catch sight of bare skin and the swell of a breast. The realization that she was completely naked beneath the bath robe and had exposed herself to this strange man sent his mind into a free fall.

Catching his breath he quickly grabbed the edges of her robe and pulled them together to cover her nakedness. She did not resist and others passing by seemed not to notice. He then grabbed her by the shoulder and turned her away from the stranger. They began walking away as he guided her with his arm around her shoulders. As they walked, his legs felt as if he had just ran a marathon and only kept moving on instinct. His mind was reeling, his heart beating loudly in his chest. Minutes pass as they walk in silence before he is able to speak.

โ€œWhat are you doing?โ€ he asks incredulously trying to hide the anger and dismay. Her response is short and clipped with very little emotion, โ€œYou do not understand.โ€

โ€œI do not understand?โ€ he questions her.

โ€œNo, you do not,โ€ she states simply.

She pauses before calmly adding, โ€œI am the one dying.โ€

~Mark Schutter ยฉ2014

Dying 2014(This story came to me in a dream, I have written it down here verbatim from what I recalled the next morning upon waking.ย  I have tried to add no extra details and if I have it is unintentional.ย  The mind has dreams of its own, of which in the light of day the reasons behind the dreams are chased away with the rising of the sun. ~M)