There are a set of songs that always provoke a visceral reaction in me, with symptoms including tingling, goosebumps, teary eyes and, on some occasions, even sobs. One such song is Long Time Gone, by Crosby, Stills and Nash, which I just played, and which had the intended cathartic effect.
Amy has been in more pain today than I have ever witnessed (in her or anyone else). I have been with her through two childbirths (including one exactly 14 years ago today), several multiple sclerosis exacerbations, and a variety of other challenges over the 25 years we've been together. She is one of the toughest, most resilient, women I have ever known (and I will admit that there have been times where I have not viewed that toughness and tenacity quite so admiringly, at least not without reservation). When she cries out in pain, I know it must be intense.
In my recent reading of Field Notes on the Compassionate Life, I came to know that the meaning of compassion is literally "to suffer with". I have been increasingly opening up to compassion in a number of dimensions, perhaps because there is so much suffering so close to home. And I have been feeling increasingly ill in my relative helplessness to do much to soothe Amy's suffering. I want to achieve more equanimity, in this and all situations, doing my best while detaching from outcomes, as it doesn't do her (or anyone else) any good for me to physically suffer on account of what she is going through. There are moments when I can take deep, long breaths, and practice acceptance of what is ... but, alas, there are far more moments where my breaths are short and I feel consumed by grief.
Amy's radiation "graduation" was scheduled for today. Unfortunately, due to her extreme discomfort, we had to postpone, and will try again tomorrow. Regardless of whether/when we proceed with the last radiotherapy treatment, the chemotherapy is over, and the side effects will diminish ... and so the dawn will come.
It's been a long time comin',
It's going to be a long time gone.
But you know, the darkest hour,
Is always, always just before the dawn.
And it appears to be a long,
Appears to be a long,
Appears to be a long time,
Such a long, long, long, long time before the dawn
[Update, 2005-09-29: I neglected to mention that while the cumulative radiation burn is painful, the primary pain Amy is suffering from now is severe abdominal cramping, which she compares to labor -- and the analogy can be extended, as the pain of moving her bowels is quite intense as well ... but I won't go there. This morning, her chemical oncologist recommended she has increase her use of pain and muscle relaxant medications, and this has made life a little more bearable.]