Coincidentally I met Sylvia the day I quit hospice. She was referred to me by a poet living in England, named Gerald England. She emailed me that she was a poet, happened to be living in my town and had stage IV liver cancer. We quickly arranged a meeting. We met at her favorite hang out, the Starbucks about one fourth mile from her house. She looked more healthy than most and was a vivacious German beauty. She was into metaphysics and denial as long as possible.
Sylvia quickly introduced me into new age therapies such as Reiki and ancient wisdom written by long hard to pronounce names. Soon after meeting we recorded our poetry together, did podcasts about poetry and life. She published a book, In The Garden of Illness, did a book signing at Barnes and Nobles. I enlisted an artist friend to write a book review which appeared in the El Paso Times. She taught a writing workshop for Tumblewords. I made a web site for her. Ironically, she said she had to be dying to feel this alive!
For the first six months I knew her she kept a hearty appetite for everything poetic and delicious, then her world lessened. She answered her phone less, ate less and she could no longer tolerate the five minute ride to Starbucks to meet her friends.
Sylvia could still be enticed into a phone conversation occasionally, although she started out by saying she was too tired to talk long but would proceed to talk for seventy minutes enthusiastically about the current wisdom she was reading…until the day came that she renounced everything saying that it was all just talk and meant nothing. We agreed that all the “wisdom” was at best tools for us or just pointers to something not the something itself. These renunciations did not make her hopeless. She had finally synthesized all that she had read into a wisdom that pointed to herself where she found peace.
She began to sleep more. Morphine and fentanyl were constantly needed and no food was her friend. The next to the last visit I saw her she laughed about her canes, calling them fashion for the handicapped. She apologized about her slow speech and her inability to wax poetic. Then she surprised me with a robe jumpsuit like the one she was wearing saying she was giving them to all her friends. She said she felt like she was being hugged when she wore hers and wanted her friends to feel they were getting a hug from her when they wore theirs.
Our last phone conversation she told me she had just returned from a psychic fair to get an aura photo. A five minute ride, fifteen minutes there, five minutes back and she was wiped out. She was in bed holding her cell phone. I told her when she needed to sleep to let me know and I would let her go.
She told me for seven years she had gotten an aura photo. She liked to put them together and compare. I asked what did the last one show? Written interpretation: She was at peace and would join the great void soon. Amazing. “I have to sleep now,” she said.
My last visit she lay in bed deep asleep. Her husband called her name but she did not stir. I began to stroke her cheek. She smiled but could not speak or move. Her husband called her name again. She opened her eyes and stared unfocused for a moment and then closed them. It was her 47th birthday. Silent tears flowed down my face. I tried hard to keep my voice from wavering. I was disappointed in myself because she was at peace and would not want sadness around her. But grief is an unpredictable weather, a reminder of the temporal delicacy of created things lunging into eternity. I knew this was my last visit.
Today I received a phone message that Sylvia died 3-21-08. Another coincidence. Sylvia was reborn on the first day of Spring with daffodils and purple leaf plums trees blooming in the transitional chill.
I wear the gift of Sylvia. She keeps me warm.
You may listen to this interview from the Player on my page or download free from itunes under the name BELINDA SUBRAMAN PRESENTS or go to my podcast home page http://belinda_subraman.podomatic.com
E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist. He is a board member of The Writer’s Center and editor of its Poet Lore magazine. The author of several collections of poems, his last book How We Sleep On The Nights We Don’t Make Love (Curbstone Press, 2004) was an Independent Publisher Award Finalist (and number one on our 2004 list of Books to begin your Poeducation now). Mr. Miller received the 1995 O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize, given by the Folger Shakespeare Library for both teaching and writing excellence. In 1996 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of literature from Emory & Henry College. In 2003 his memoir Fathering Words: The Making of An African American Writer (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), was selected by DC WE READ for its one book, one city program sponsored by the D.C. Public Libraries. In 2004, Mr. Miller was awarded a Fulbright to visit Israel. Poets & Writers presented him with the 2007 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. Mr. Miller is often heard on National Public Radio (NPR).
Probably the Truth
All my life
my being has been
intense drama in my preceptors:
ultra passions with
All the awesome beauty I've endured,
laughed and cried
through the stratosphere...
I believed it was shared
People reacted to
my warmth and love
but they were not there
but trapped in their own meanings
Neither was I there for them
but trapped in my wild pleasures
and weighted misplacements.
It is the illusions we share
not the actual path.
The most fantastic journey
each must take alone.
Written and spoken word by Belinda and friends, news, blog and links to great sites http://belinda_subraman.podomatic.com
Click to hear show and view show descriptions and photos.http://myspace.com/belindasubraman
networking site full of fun
Sat, Jan. 5th, 2008, 04:17 pm
I am now living in Ruidoso, New Mexico. I hope to update this journal more often now.
I will continue to post interviews at http://belinda_subraman.podomatic.com
Here is a listener’s note:
I just heard your Podcast with Antoine Bacha. I challenge you or anyone else to make sense of that load of claptrap. The future and past are all just memories? Stuff that hasn't happened yet is actually a memory, huh? How does that explain the frequent difference between what I hope for and what I actually get? Why didn't you ask him how that lines up with various ideas about free will?
The guy heard voices while he was being tortured and we're supposed to believe that the voices he heard were something more than a dissociative response to extreme mental and physical anguish? Bull. There are perfectly good psychological explanations for what happened to this guy in response to torture. A load of gobble-dee-gook doesn't explain a damned thing.
The liberal application of rationality worldwide would go a long way toward ridding people of charlatans and crackpots like this.
"If I can get you to believe absurdities, I can get you to commit atrocities"---Voltaire
Here is my response:
For the Critic of Ideas
The implausible still interests me.
I am amused
when someone states
an interviewee is insane or mislead
when everything / anything
on a certain level is absurd
and over weighted.
Our earth games are just that.
At worst we see glimpses
toward wisdom as absolutes
and do not reach beyond illusion.
Free mouthed hypothesis
is in the same sinking earth boat
as its critics.
At best we can look on in a half smile
and wonder how anyone
could believe like that,
bring it no closer to us
and let it fall away…
laughing, if we must.
You can hear my interview with Billy Joe Royal and a few of his new songs at http://belinda_subraman.podomatic.com
Raised in Marietta, Georgia, Royal became a local singing sensation at Savannah, Georgia's Bamboo Ranch in the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for the 1965 Top Ten pop hit "Down in the Boondocks," which, along with the singles "I Knew You When" (Top 20, 1965) and "Hush" (1967), were written and produced by Joe South. His 1969 single, "Cherry Hill Park," peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
During the 1980s, Royal scored a comeback with several Top 10 country hits, including "Tell It Like It Is," "Burned Like a Rocket," and "I'll Pin a Note on Your Pillow."
When his rejuvenated career as a country music hitmaker quieted down, he followed up with bookings throughout the 1990s in large country music bars and became a successful act on that circuit. And, he is still making music. His latest release is “Going By Daydreams.” Check http://BillyJoeRoyal.com
for more info. Also you could check any of the several million entries on any search engine to learn more about this legandary performer.,
Once again it has been a long time. I know there are a few loved ones who check here for news. The thing is I work more than full time and in addition I’m on call 50 percent of every second in my life. It is too much. When I get home I crash but remember 50 percent of that time I’m subject to go out anywhere in the county at any hour and I do. There is no sum of money to equal the sacrifice.
I continue with health problems and I’m certainly another victim of our evil, money grubbing health care (lack of) system. However, I will pay the full amount for a re-pap to rule out cancer as suggested by my doctor, especially since I have all the signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Hopefully I’ll come out okay but if not I’ll do whatever is necessary. Every day is different with Grave’s disease and maybe some of those signs and symptoms are related. Maybe because I work with dying people and pronounce death and I have friends who are dying, I have a feeling of impending doom. It is not hopeless and nothing I’m very afraid of but something that is inevitable to us all and I feel that I will get through it okay. As someone wise said, “Death is very easy. We will all be successful at it.!”
So, in short, I am overworked, not physically very well and way behind in creative pursuits which give me satisfaction.
But there is good news. Bob and I are very close. There is magnetism between us and an energy field that that spikes and blends when we’re together. I know that whatever this is I have never had it before. I feel we are meant to be together and it took all these years for us to be ready to meet and to find each other. In this respect my dreams are coming true. The kind, loving, creative and spiritual man I have asked for has come into my life.
Don't miss the Bush protest show at http://belinda_subraman.podomatic.com
or if you scroll down far enough you can double click on the show in the player and in a few seconds it will play.
Okay, it has been awhile. There have been many things that, obviously, I wasn’t ready to talk about. I like to go into hiding when things aren’t going my way. Now things are looking a little differently.
First, I’d like to mention an incredible hospice experience. I don’t think I can adequately convey how instantly bonded with a beautiful loving energy I shared with the people in this brief, less than 24 hour experience. Suffice it to say, this is what keeps me in hospice despite often impossible and/or troubling family situations.
Oh yeah, about the Graves disease (that causes the hyperthyroidism which is ultimately the problem) I’m still on PTU and acupuncture is helping and I’m taking some herbs. I still have bad days with extremely high blood pressure and heart rate but they are less often. Stress seems to make a difference and even though I had a beautiful hospice experience last Friday, I was up most of the night and making a death call at 0245. The physical stress alone seemed to push me into a thyroid storm. I took a lisinapril that day, something I won’t do unless my heart feels like it will burst. I may be dealing with this the rest of my life so I have to be smart and sensitive to my body and manage this thing carefully.
Oh, I just posted a show called: Musicians and Fine Artists for Peace
You can stroll down for awhile and catch it in my Player or go to http://belinda_subraman.podomatic.com
Hope you like it.
You can click on the show in the player a few entries below this one.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sam has cared for the needs of the dying in palliative care for over 16 years. During that time, Sam has served as the Chair, and now, Co-Chair of the Hospice Ethics Committee at the Hospice Care Center of VNS in Akron, Ohio. He has served several years as a State Continuing Education Chairperson for the Association of Professional Chaplains. For well over a decade, Sam has been an active editorial review board member and contributing writer for Healing Ministry Journal, The Journal of Terminal Oncology, and The American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care.
Sam began his speaking about spiritual care over 15 years ago and continues to speak at public engagements on the local, national, and international levels. He has spoke at several college campuses and keynoted at several Hospice Conferences. His first book of four "What the Dying Teach Us: Lessons on Living" is a National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization selection.
Sam's undergraduate study was at Georgetown College with a B.A. in Psychology. He received his Master of Divinity @ The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky with an emphasis in the Pastor/Teacher track. In 2003, Sam Oliver finished his post-graduate certificate in Healthcare Ethics through Rush University in Chicago, IL. Presently, Reverend Doctor Samuel Lee Oliver is the Chaplain at the Hospice Care Center of VNS in Akron, Ohio.