April 2018

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


I should graduate with my MSW from the University of Washington's School of Social Work this December. I have three more Mondays at my practicum, five more classes, and three more assignments. I'm planning for my departure at my practicum and at the School of Social Work like my Grandmother Edwards planned her memorial service.   I've had fun, but I'm ready. It's been four years and a quarter, and it's time to go. (My partner Ann is ready, too.) 

I went to my own high school and college commencement ceremonies, and worked in high schools for 27 years, so I attended a lot or commencement ceremonies.  Adding a few friends' commencements, I've probably heard, "Commencement is not an end but a beginning" at least 30 times in speeches. 

In reading the book Companioning vs. Treating: Beyond The Medical Model of Bereavement Caregiving by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., recently, I read that, similarly, "Mourning is not an end, but a beginning."

Both statements are in some ways true, but for now, I'd just like to be okay with ending. People keep asking me what I'll do when I finish my MSW. I tell them first I'll take a nap. Then I'll probably work on my writing. Then see how I might apply what I've learned in the world while Ann and I  raise a puppy. 

Really, though, I just want to be still with this ending. To take a deep breath and say to myself, "Well done." Must I constantly be looking forward?

I have been a planner all my life--and still am--so this is not a rhetorical question, but my brain tumors have helped me to see the possibility of death, perhaps the big end, and the joy of focusing on the moment, the present. 

The question takes me to the close of Walt Whitman's section 5 in his poem "Song of Myself."

"All goes onward and outwardand nothing collapses.
And to die is different from what anyone supposed--and luckier."

It's not that I'm seeking to die. That time will come. But for now I want to live in this moment, not to worry so much about what's to come. 

As my friend Scarlett O'Hara said, "Tomorrow is another day."

And I say, today is today. I want to be here a while. 

1 comment:

  1. I've been anxious to see your reflections after the election analysis had settled in and am deeply moved by the wisdom and brave compassion in your words. Thank you.


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