Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Letter from Claudia

To my family and friends,

As you know, I have been battling cancer for several years now. I have little to say about that except that it, like all suffering, however ennobling, genuinely sucks. It has been your friendship and encouragement that transformed some very difficult times into some very good times. And now it seems, despite our best efforts, including those of my competent and kind doctors, some rogue cells have gained the upper hand and my happy days are numbered.

While I would readily, greedily have chosen many, many more years enjoying this life with my husband Theo and with each of you, I am surprisingly at peace with what is happening. Go figure. That peace is certainly none of my own doing. It is totally a gift from God, most gratefully received.

From my current vantage point, somewhere between a rock and a hard place, I would offer this as a simple gift to each of you: while dying is not easy, it is not nearly as bad as you’d think. Please remember that when your turn comes or when the uneasy thought of it creeps in and makes you afraid.

Lately, I wonder a lot at the seeming contradictions I am experiencing. Here is a big one: it is love that makes it easiest to endure this and easiest to think about moving on; at the same time, it is love that most holds me here. My love for Theo, for each of you, and for our beautiful earth. It’s not just sunsets over the ocean that entrance me; I am even regarding the fur shed by our cats with extraordinary affection! Everything else? Stuff? Status? Not so much.

You might want to hold that thought too: best to live with an open heart, an open mind, and open hands. Airline people know that already from flying Space Available; be flexible and travel light. Oh, and get moving when your name is called.

While I have always tried and even vowed to live with that openness, I have not been universally successful. Perhaps you noticed. When asked by a friend to summarize my life in few words, one version I came up with was "occasionally half-assed, but never half-hearted." If along the way, I did anything in the former demi-derriere category that hurt you, my sincere apologies. If it was the other way around, know you are already forgiven. I hope on balance I have contributed to your life because you have certainly enriched mine.

My life, with all its unexpected twists and turns, has been an amazing journey for me! No doubt because of this, I find I am profoundly curious about the life to come. To my fellow photographers, three words: God is light. Imagine.

Meanwhile, I’m still here and Theo and I look forward to hearing from you.

Claudia Bodmer