Skip to main content

To Love and Let Go

Let me first be blunt. I am going to die. We all will. It is our inescapable fate. Having been diagnosed with an incurable disease makes me no more death's target than anyone else—I simply have been made much more aware of my inherently impermanent nature on this earth. The Buddha says that it is our attachment to things that are impermanent that causes our suffering, that in order to prevent suffering we much accept impermanence and release our attachments to people, to things, to our own lives. Though no Buddhist scholar, I take this lesson not to mean that we should live in heartless isolation but that we should recognize that our time, our relationships are but temporary gifts. We will feel joy and love. We will feel grief and anger. But ultimately we must accept that all living things are transitory, designed to come and to go. Therefore, when living things go, we must not suffer their loss.

Admittedly, I question whether I will be able to uphold this philosophy in practice, but I find that it brings me peace in theory. I turn to it when I become afraid of mine and others' passing. Despite several brushes with death, I have not feared it, perhaps out of stubbornness and the determination that it was unequivocally not my time. My diagnosis has changed that. I do not fear the actual act of dying. I fear change and loss. At age 31, I am the happiest I have ever been, which means that I also have more to lose than ever before. Suddenly I understand why some people, sick or otherwise, choose to push friends and family away. Friends and family remind us of what we will lose when we go or when they go before us. If friends and family are not around, not to be found, not there for support and love, it is so very much easier to cope because one can not lose what is already lost.

Easier is not always better though. It would be infinitely easier not to fight this disease, to wad up in a ball and cry like Chicken Little, to become bitter and fatalistic. Fighting, continuing on, displaying resoluteness takes a great deal of energy—a fact often overlooked by those who look and see a calm and stoic person. My composure is an exercise in self-control. I do not allow myself to fall apart because to do so would accomplish nothing. Being a sniffling, self-pitying mess does not help my doctors, does not help myself, does not help my family and friends, does not cross items off my bucket list, does not make the best use of what time I have left. I will continue to move forward with purpose until the end of my days at which time my hope is that I can look back and say that they were days well spent.

This steadfastness does not make me super-human. I break. There are times when the fear comes, or the tiredness overwhelms, or the frustration mounts, and I break. I am allowed. These emotions are part of my experience here on earth. I will sit with them, and I will feel them, and I will use them to guide me. The goal is to do this and to then pack the broken pieces back up into my heart and carry on, changed, rearranged, but whole.


  1. Thank you for sharing, it is beautifully worded. My thoughts are with you.

  2. You are my best friend and my strength. I cherish the time we have to look forward to, no matter the amount.

  3. Thank you, Sarah, for this poest. (well, maybe that's an appropriate typo!) And thank you for the poems you sent to my blog.


Post a Comment

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world." — Buddha

Popular posts from this blog

Access Medicine X: Live Stream Brings Silicon Valley Direct To You

Stanford Medicine X is a catalyst for new ideas, designed to explore social media and information
technology’s power to advance medical practices, improve health, and empower patients to participate in their own care. But Medicine X also seeks to engage and empower those unable to attend in person to still get involved in the discussion.

Through Medicine X’s Global Access program, main stage content from the three-day conference will be made available through a high-quality live stream. Anyone with an Internet connection around the world will be able to view keynote speakers such as Daniel Siegel, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at University of California-Los Angeles and author of The New York Times bestseller Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, and panel discussions such as Gonzalo Bacigalupe's focusing on the e-health movement and inequality among marginalized populations.

“Medicine X has distinguished itself through a singular commitment to inclusivit…

And In The Wilderness A Clearing Emerged

In addition to my work as an advocate, my actual "job" has been as a reporter and editor. I've been in the field professionally since I was 17 (though one could count running the school yearbook and starting a literary magazine as my initial forays). My first employment outside a horse stable was in an university's public relations office. I worked four summers there moving up from the mail room and putting together basic press releases to writing full articles and contracting for assignment work while at college. I earned a degree in journalism with an outside concentration in political science at UNC-Chapel Hill. While there I worked as a writer, desk editor and managing editor of The Daily Tar Heel; wrote for and edited a literary magazine; volunteered for Journalists United to Maximize Potential, a student-run organization that taught middle school students how to produce a newspaper; interned in public relations for the Morehead Planetarium; and interned in publ…

Crowdfunding Creativity

For as involved as I am in the national (and, at times, international) healthcare social media community, I find myself in a local void. The mountains I call home are not the epicenter of anything to do with healthcare or social media much less the two together. I've been chipping away, trying to carve out a foothold such that the wealth of education and opportunity found in healthcare and social media can enrich the lives of those I routinely connect with in real life as it has my own. It's slow going. Every fear, every socio-economic force that pushes back against the #hcsm tide can be found here. But today... today made a new friend.

As like minds are prone to do, @SociallyMD and I connected first via Twitter. Lo and behold — we live a mere 20 minutes apart. Prior to departing for Stanford's Medicine X conference, I suggested that since we were the only two Tweeps occupying the local #hcsm space, @SociallyMD and I should meet. And meet we did, instantly connecting profe…