Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
I recently became aware of the blogger and Twitterer Lisa Adams (@AdamsLisa). Lisa is a mother of three who is living with and dying from stage four breast cancer. She has been in the news lately because some journalists have spoken out against her publicly discussing her illness and the realities of dying. The writers are praising those who die quietly, privately while decrying Lisa’s warrior stance against her disease.
Lisa’s approach to her disease is hers and hers alone. I am thankful that she is willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly of the entire experience. Our modern western existence is separated from death and dying. It has been turned into something medical and removed. Many of us never see its nuances until we face it ourselves. As a psychology of grief class I took explained, this separation of life from death complicates the modern grieving experience. It pulls a shroud over the entire process, even though it is a universal one.
Lisa’s tweets can be difficult to read for those not in the same boat. We want to believe that it cannot happen to us. We want to turn our heads.
And we can.
We can choose not to read. Not to see.
But I’m glad it’s there for those who find reassurance in her words and comfort in her thoughts.
And for all of us, living near death reminds us how to be alive.
I have no close, personal experience with cancer. I have not had it and I have not been close to someone dying of it apart from my experience in the pediatric oncology ward. But I do have experience with writing about another of life’s uglier sides. And, like Lisa, I have faced negativity and those who question why I choose to write about divorce.
I cannot speak for Lisa Adams, but I can share why I refuse to be quiet.
I refuse to be quiet because my silence makes others more comfortable.
I refuse to be quiet because if my voice can help one other person, it is worth speaking.
I refuse to be quiet when a chorus of voices can help create change.
And I refuse to be quiet because doing so feels like dying while I am still alive.
So, Lisa Adams, share your voice and know that it is heard and that we all benefit from listening.
And even though you may not kick cancer’s butt, you’re kicking butt on your way out.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
And know that your voice will be heard long after you’re gone.