Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, April 30, 2010

Final Destination: Who Cares?!

by Kerry Blair

I’m not entirely sure I’m still welcome here after wandering off for so long without explanation, but my name is still on the mailbox and my key still fits in the lock, so . . . here I am! (It’s okay if you don’t have a fatted calf; I’ve been trying to stick to a diet of fruit, vegetables, and whole grain anyway.) How is everybody? I’ve missed you!

To continue the conference/Whitney theme: Since I couldn’t be in Utah last weekend, I threw myself a grand pity party and thoughtfully invited my whole family and part of my ward. Even though it was all over by Monday, I find myself still cleaning up a little here and there—mostly ripping up photos of the big event that people have thoughtlessly left laying around on the Internet. (Not that I’m jealous or anything.)

But by way of good-for-me news, I am now almost optimistic enough to say: “There’s always next year!” (I’m halfway through the latest round of chemo and, due to a change in schedule, almost coherent on a Friday!) Looking toward next year is a big step in the right direction for me. I’ve been rather . . . fatalistic . . . of late. I blame TNT.

About the time I learned that the cancer had advanced to the next stage, I spent an afternoon alone, on the couch, sleeping with the TV on. During one of my more-or-less wakeful periods, TNT showed an edited-for-almost-everybody version of Final Destination 2. The storyline involved a group of people who are saved from death in a horrific highway pile-up by one girl’s premonition. The thing is, you can’t cheat Death. One by one, the people who were spared the accident begin to die in some of the most, um, creative ways imaginable. (Imaginable by Poe, I mean.) And, to be honest, I can only assume they died. I didn’t see it. It was early afternoon—and TNT—so every scene ended before the pendulum met the pit. But there was dripping red Karo syrup and I never saw the actor again, so I feared the worst.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about how my diagnosis was almost like a premonition. From there I “naturally” extrapolated that taking chemo could be considered cheating death. (Lower case this time.) Was that what I was trying to do? Was I torturing myself and bankrupting my family only to postpone the inevitable? Heck, I don’t even cheat at Monopoly. (Usually.) Also, I’m not afraid to die. Then, because I have way too much imagination, some of it twisted, I was able to coax that passing fear of making the wrong choice into an obsession which I then raised to an art form. Not only did I agonize over whether or not to continue treatment, I spent odd hours imagining all kinds of marvelously ironic ways to perish at the end of hundreds of hours of
chemo-induced misery and thousands of dollars of medical bills.

I’m better now, thank you. The anti-psychotic drugs really help.

Okay, so I’m not serious. Or at least I’m mostly not serious. I did think about the whole why-am-I-postponing-death thing a little. I do think about it still sometimes. But it doesn’t haunt me. In fact, as much as I love irony, I think I could appreciate being hit by a bus the day I’m pronounced cured of cancer. That said, I am cautious around bus stops—and I will continue to use chemo to “cheat” just as long as I can get away with it. I don’t know exactly how the time and place of anyone’s demise is ascertained, but I’m very certain—and happy—that I’m not in charge of mine. (My imagination is too good.)

Today, in fact, I am not only going to look forward to next year, I’m going to plant a cherry tree to prove it. It’s Arbor Day, after all, and my long-and-not-very-interesting blog has reminded me of one of my husband’s favorite quotes. Some of the brethren of Wilford Woodruff’s time asked him when he thought the Savior would come and the world as we know it would end. President Woodruff is said to have replied, “I would live as if it were to be tomorrow—but I am still planting cherry trees!”*

Any of us could face the end of life today, tomorrow, or many years from now. I think President Woodruff’s attitude covers all possibilities. What really matters is what we do right now. When we plant cherry trees, we sow faith and joy in the day and hope for many morrows to come. You've got to admit: it beats watching horror movies.

And, speaking of bright new futures, a little frog told me there might be a major announcement coming a little later today. If you're reading this before that, come back! I promise, it's not to be missed!

*Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff; pg 250)


At 4/30/2010 1:14 PM, Blogger David J. West said...

Prayers for you getting better Kerry-hang in there. I missed you last weekend.

At 4/30/2010 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think everyone everyday has to make the dicision on whether or not they will plant their cherry tree (both literally and figuratively). I know that I feel inspired to plant ten of them after reading your post.

Kelsi Rose

At 4/30/2010 1:40 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

I think one of the biggest milestone anyone can reach is making the determination that they won't live in fear of "the end of the world". Rather live day by day knowing any day could be their last.

Thank you for reminding me. It has been a while since I saved the cherry pits instead of throwing them away.

At 4/30/2010 2:46 PM, Blogger emilyf said...

This was lovely...funny and thoughtful and positive. It shows

At 4/30/2010 7:08 PM, Blogger Janette Rallison said...

I missed seeing you at conference--but there is always next year. Or, I know, since we both live in Arizona, we could get together in our own state. *makes the call me motion with her hand*

Love you, darling!

At 5/01/2010 12:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerry!! You keep forgetting.... if you're going to have a 'pity party' you've GOT to invite me! After all, what are best friends for?

Call me, email me, or something, my friend. I promise to sympathize.


At 5/01/2010 3:21 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

I care! And I think you hurt my feelings. I invite you to all of my pity parties, don't I? What are you doing holding one without me? It seems to me that over the years we've traveled many of the same roads; sometimes you've been the driver and sometimes me. Sometimes we've caught trains that passed in the night and sometimes we've stared out the same window at different vistas, but dear friend, sister, don't get in a hurry to get too far ahead of me; I'm still looking forward to that retirement village where we'll be on the same culdesac on side-by-side porches cheering or jeering together. I'm still planning on being Simon to your Paula.

At 5/02/2010 3:10 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

I love the cherry tree concept.

I genuinely missed you at this year's conference and gala, and I think of you often.

At 5/03/2010 6:27 PM, Blogger Michele Holmes said...

What a beautiful post, Kerry. We ALL missed you at the conference, and you are frequently in our thoughts and prayers.
Thank you for continued inspiration.

At 5/03/2010 6:40 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Did I miss the announcement?

Also, next time, bring cherries, I love them! (And also the bearer of the cherries.)

At 5/03/2010 10:08 PM, Blogger Cheri J. Crane said...

Hurray for cherry trees!!! =)I just wish they grew in Bear Lake. Do apple trees count? Those are pretty hardy around here. ;)

Great post, Kerry. You are amazing. And here's to Chili's in Prescott next spring!

At 5/04/2010 12:14 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Thank you so much for letting me come back. (Especially you, Sariah!) And thank you, too, for all the thoughts and prayers. I can't begin to describe the incredible blessings that come daily into my life because of the faith, love, and charity of each of you -- and so many others. Nobody's ever going to be very happy taking chemo, but joy? Well, that's just all over the place! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sarah & Jennie: Okay, but don't forget you asked for it. Next party I'm sending you both engraved invitations -- you'd better come in raincoats! (Love you ladies!)

Jon: Announcement? Guess I missed it, too. :)

Kelsi Rose: Miss you, girl! Shouldn't you be sending me something wonderful to read? (That you've written, of course!)

At 5/04/2010 12:52 AM, Blogger Valerie Ipson said...

I'll gladly bring my shovel and help you plant...

Glad to know you're hanging in there. You were missed at Storymakers!

At 5/06/2010 3:00 AM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

Girl, you were missed so you'd better be planning on next year. Thank you for the cherry tree lesson. I think I'll plant one or two or three as well. I love you Kerry.


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