Caren’s spirit left her body on August 12, 2000. Though she is no longer with us, her husband, Dr. Alan Pomerantz will try and answer questions you may have. You can email him at CancerThoughts@aol.com.
July 31, 2000
By Caren Sue Fried
How could I leave this world without leaving all of you a letter? And how could I start my letter without an infamous quote?
“Tis better to have loved and lost…Than never to have loved at all.” (Alfred Lord Tennyson) The emotional pain is so intense only because the joys have been so great! Who am I who has died? You have lost your friend, your relative, your daughter, sister, wife, mother, or granddaughter. But, for me I am losing all of you at one time. I am losing my child, my mother, father, sister, husband, even dog, other relatives and friends all in a single moment. Dwelling on the thought of that can be overwhelming, even overbearing! It is part of the ultimate lesson of living in the moment because the thought of losing everyone is really a “future” thought. This is, however, by far an extremely difficult task to live moment by moment. So for me, I need to transcend the emotional pain of my losing all of you in order to die into a spiritual place of existence. It is this spiritual place that I am looking ahead towards while leaving behind the emotional and physical pain.
Remember that I am filled with more love than you can possibly imagine–it’s just that my love is no longer attached to a physical body. It is eternal love. When you see turtles in a stream, leaf buds in the springtime, snowy hills in winter, or more, that is where I will be at home. I have no doubt you will feel my presence there and it will cause you to smile because you know I am in the world where everything is eternal.
Also, of course my love and spirit will get carried along into the many generations to come as well as everyone who has been touched by my life. Memories and stories and pictures get passed on long after the physical bodies. This is what spirit truly is. This is what gives life meaning.
I lived life more fully for the past 6 years than in the previous 35 years put together. Yes, I would have liked many more years, especially, because of being a parent of a young child, but I was blessed with a wonderful 41 years. The difference between 41 and 81 years is really nothing relative to eternal time. I could ask “Why Me?” in terms of why I was diagnosed with cancer at 35 years old, but I could also ask why I didn’t die at 36 years old as the doctors predicted. Just a few days ago, I gave my Hospice nurse a set of my pamphlets. She told me that she gave them to a cancer patient who then spent the last week of her life discussing them with her mother. They had meaningful life and death discussions during that last dying week. Without ever knowing who these people are, I felt as if my life had great meaning. This is one of many examples for me. I have accomplished so much, done so much, helped so many people in the past 6 years. Perhaps this was the true purpose of my life. Ironically, I feel that everything I did was for myself. I wrote my pamphlets, created my website, had healing ceremonies because I needed to do these things to help myself feel better. (I am not talking about curing cancer but about healing my inner self.). But there was a tremendous ripple effect that unintentionally affected so many people. It still astonishes me. If I had one bit of advice to pass on, this would be it: Take time to work on your own inner healing. It will automatically affect everyone else around you in a positive way.
In the book, the Art of Dying, the author presents a scenario. She said imagine that it is a time before you are born. You are in heaven (or whatever is a comfortable place) and an angel or messenger, if that sounds better, is giving everyone a piece of paper. It is your assignment for life on earth. You could choose to accept or decline it. Though it is a very difficult assignment, you choose to accept it because you know that life on earth is so precious. Now you have lived your life. You are about to die, looking back, would you have chosen to accept your assignment on earth? Think about it.
Despite the huge physical and emotional challenges of these past 6 years, despite dying at only 41 years old and despite having to leave my daughter at such a young age to be raised by others, I would answer “definitely yes.” I would choose to do this again. The years have been precious to me. This answer actually brought me some sense of relief and comfort.
I am not angry at life. I do not see life as unfair (although there was a time when I was terribly angry over my cancer diagnosis). I do have deep sadness that I have to leave this wonderful, beautiful, miraculous world.
We don’t know, of course, the details of death, but I believe that the human being is composed of the body-mind-heart-soul. I have written them as one word because I believe that they are intricately connected. Do they separate during the dying process or are they all so impermanent to begin with that they do not really separate? Perhaps they separate on this plane of existence, but in other planes way beyond our understanding, they are all connected as One, One light, One eternal time. To get there, our emotional attachments on this earth are probably in the way and we must detach from them when we feel the body-mind start to shut down.
Stephen Levine wrote that when you touch pain with fear, it is pity. When you touch pain with love, it is compassion. Keep this in mind. The pain is impermanent and will not last forever. The fear and pity dwells on the past. Eventually, the love and compassion shines through for eternity.
I really hope that no one refers to my life as having “struggled for 6 years with cancer” or “constantly fighting cancer” or worse yet “losing the battle with cancer.” I developed a disease that is a mystery, complicated by many factors. But during these past 6 years I have accomplished so much, became the person I truly wanted to be and I do not see myself as having lost anything. I have worked extensively on myself, learned amazing new things, met people I would never have met otherwise, extended what I have learned to so many people who have thanked me in so many ways, not to mention 6 years of sharing many memorable moments with my family. To say that I “lost” anything would simply be totally wrong.
I feel that I have been blessed with tremendous opportunities over my lifetime. And I am so grateful for the past 6 years.
I wish all of you the miraculous blessings of life that occur each and everyday in the world. Just keep looking for them.